Climate poker: Who's bidding what
A key UN conference taking place in Bali, Indonesia, from December 3-14, is tasked with launching a roadmap for negotiations for strengthening action against global warming.
The ultimate goal: A new agreement for reducing global greenhouse-gas emssions from the end of 2012, when the Kyoto Protocol's first round of commitments expires.
This year has seen a flurry of meetings ahead of the Bali talks, continuing with a top-level UN gathering in New York next Monday, followed by talks among major emitters in Washington on September 27-28 under US chairmanship.
Positions for the post-2012 negotiations are now starting to emerge but no-one is showing their full hand, for this is a poker game set to climax at the end of 2009.
Here is a resume, drawn from interviews with diplomats, technical experts and non-governmental organisations in Europe and the United States, as to how the main players stand:
World's most prolific burner of fossil fuels, accounting by itself for nearly a quarter of global greenhouse-gas pollution. Rejects Kyoto Protocol.
Under intensifying pressure at home and abroad, President George W. Bush agreed to the G8 Heiligendamm summit communique in June that named climate change a "long-term challenge" and pledged to "consider seriously" proposals for at least halving global emissions by 2050.
Bush opposes Kyoto's present format as too costly for the US economy and unfair, as China, India and other emerging giants are excluded from binding emissions targets.
He argues that voluntary agreements and cleaner technologies can tackle global warming. The process launched by Washington will identify sectoral approaches on global warming, the role of the private sector and new technologies such as carbon storage and next-generation biofuels.
Kyoto's champion. The European Union saved the Protocol from oblivion after Bush walked away from the still-uncompleted treaty in 2001 -- but this act of faith has not been matched by progress on the ground. Several EU economies are far short of meeting their 2012 targets and Europe badly fumbled the launch of its market in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
Offering a unilateral cut in EU emissions of 20 percent by 2020 compared with 1990 levels, which could be deepened to 30 percent if other players (unspecified by the EU) show an interest. Hoping to keep developing countries on its side, the EU says it expects that only rich countries will have to make binding emissions cuts in the second commitment phase. It is quietly suspicious of the Washington talks, with some European capitals scenting a US bid to hijack the process under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Canada, Japan and Russia are among Kyoto parties that oppose the EU's fast-track approach, fearing the cost of over-ambitious emissions curbs to their economies. Australia (not a Kyoto party) and South Korea (not classified as a developed country under Kyoto's provisions) are part of this loose group.
Their concerns watered down agreement at UNFCCC talks in Vienna last month, which "recognised... (as) useful initial parameters" -- but did not endorse -- the goal that industrialised countries should cut their emissions by 25-40 percent by 2020 over 1990 levels.
Those figures had been spelt out earlier this year by the UN's top climate-science authority, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as an option for policymakers seeking to keep global warming to less than two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial times.
A diverse bloc ranging from the world's poorest countries to Asia's big two -- China, which is expected to overtake the United States soon as the world's biggest carbon polluter, and India.
No sign yet that these countries will shift in their opposition to being included in binding emissions targets. They argue that the historical blame for global warming lies with industrialised nations and that mandatory curbs will hurt their rise out of poverty.
However, awareness of global warming as a problem is rising fast in these countries, many of which are pushing through plans that they hope will ease their rise in emissions.
They look to the post-2012 Kyoto deal to do more to transfer clean technology to their economies and deliver financial support to help them cope with the impacts of climate change.All rights reserved. © 2005 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.