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EU lashes out as climate discord deepens

China defends role in climate talks
Beijing (UPI) Dec 23, 2009 - China struck back Tuesday at British accusations that Beijing "hijacked" the Copenhagen climate-change talks. "The statements from certain British politicians are plainly a political scheme," Jiang Yu, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said in a statement issued by the state-run Xinhua news agency. China's stance was an apparent response to an article Monday in The Guardian by British Secretary of State for Climate and Energy Ed Miliband, critical of China's role in the Dec. 7-19 talks. In the article, Miliband said China -- the world's largest emitter of carbon -- vetoed agreement on including the need for large reductions in emissions by 2050 in the accord, despite support for those targets from a coalition of developed countries and a vast majority of developing countries. "We did not get an agreement on 50 percent reductions in global emissions by 2050 or on 80 percent reductions by developed countries. Both were vetoed by China, despite the support of a coalition of developed and the vast majority of developing countries," wrote Miliband, who played a crucial role in the Copenhagen negotiations.

"We cannot again allow negotiations on real points of substance to be hijacked in this way," he added. Jiang said the objective of the British politicians "is to shirk the obligations of developed countries to their developing counterparts and create discord among developing countries, but the attempt is doomed to fail." "Miliband's comments could be the start of a flurry of buck-passing," said Lin Boqiang, director of Xiamen University's China Center for Energy Economics Research, China Daily reports. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said Monday he rejected British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's suggestion that he would lobby the United States and other EU members to commit to deeper emissions reductions on condition that China pledged to do more. Wen said he refused the request because China is still a developing country with 15 million people struggling in poverty. "China wants to exert newly found superpower status, and its leaders know that they need to show leadership in cutting emissions," Abyd Karmali, the global head of carbon markets for Bank of America Merrill Lynch, told The New York Times. "On the other hand, the Chinese leadership needs to satisfy a domestic constituency that believes the historical burden for emissions has little to do with them, that there is no need to constrain its economic development, and that there is certainly no need to show much deference to other countries," he said.
by Staff Writers
Brussels (AFP) Dec 23, 2009
Europe accused the United States and China of torpedoing the Copenhagen climate summit and vowed not to back down in its push for a tough, binding accord to avert the potential disaster of global warming.

Post-summit recriminations deepened even among the select nations, including the United States, China, India and Brazil, that convened behind closed doors to stitch together a widely panned deal in the Danish capital at the weekend.

With scientists warning of the growing threat of drought, floods, storms and rising sea levels, UN chief Ban Ki-Moon acknowledged international disappointment but called the summit an "essential beginning".

Defying the ire of bitterly disappointed environmentalists, Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said his country had emerged "quite well in Copenhagen" by thwarting moves to set binding emissions targets.

However the European Union's Swedish presidency called the summit a "disaster".

Briefing reporters after a meeting of EU environment ministers, Swedish chairman Andreas Carlgren said "disappointment and frustration" was universal among the European nations.

"We are aware that the outcome of Copenhagen doesn't at all match the needs of (the) climate and of mankind," Sweden's environment minister said Tuesday.

"Many commented that it was obvious that (the) United States and China did not want more than we achieved in Copenhagen and that's part of what we have regretted here," Carlgren added.

The summit promised 100 billion dollars for poor nations that risk bearing the brunt of global warming's fallout, and set a commitment to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

But it failed to spell out the concrete cuts to greenhouse gas emissions that scientists say are essential to cap a planetary rise in temperatures.

Carlgren said the EU "will continue to strive for an agreement that is legally binding for all parties and sufficiently ambitious to limit global warming... below 2.0 degrees".

But he warned against one proposal floated by Belgium among others for an EU "carbon tax" on imports from climate laggards, saying this would undermine whatever chance there remains for a global deal next year.

Britain singled out China for blocking a tougher deal in Copenhagen, but Beijing hit back on Tuesday by accusing the EU heavyweight of trying to drive a wedge between developing countries.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said "such an attack was made in order to shirk the obligations of developed countries to their developing counterparts and foment discord among developing countries".

She told the state Xinhua news agency "the attempt was doomed to fail".

The powerful OPEC cartel's top official said it was up to rich nations to fight climate change.

"The mess was created by the developed countries and they should pay for it," OPEC's Libyan secretary general Abdullah El-Badri said in Angola.

Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva blamed US President Barack Obama for the talks' failure, saying he offered "too little" in the way of emissions cuts.

Low-lying and flood-prone Bangladesh, one of the nations most vulnerable to climate change, said that it would seek 15 percent of the first 30 billion dollars committed at the Copenhagen summit.

Environment Minister Hasan Mahmud said Bangladesh's 150 million people made up around 15 percent of the approximately one billion people estimated to be affected by global warming, and deserved "per capita compensation".

The money would be used to build cyclone shelters, reinforce coastal embankments, develop saline resistant crops and for a program of reforestation, Mahmud said.

One measure to emerge from Copenhagen was a programme to discourage deforestation and plant new trees as a way of capturing more of the industrial carbon dioxide that scientists say is trapping atmospheric heat.

Announcing a new initiative grouping the world's main rainforest countries, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said "efforts related to rainforests may lead to one-third of the emission cuts needed by 2020".

earlier related report
UN climate chief appeals for calm after Copenhagen bustup
Paris (AFP) Dec 23, 2009 - The UN's pointman on climate change pleaded for calm on Wednesday after angry spats erupted over the outcome of the much-trumpeted world climate summit in Copenhagen.

Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), warned "all this finger-pointing and recrimination" could cloud negotiations next year for sealing a post-2012 pact on tackling global warming.

"We need to work together constructively, whereas countries are in the media blaming each other for what happened, the same countries that are going to have to be back at the negotiating table next year with an open willingness to work together," he told AFP in a phone interview from London.

"It's bad for the atmosphere, it's bad for the relationship among people that ultimately have a common goal to move this forward."

De Boer did not name names but chose to give the interview after Britain and China swapped verbal blows as to who was to blame for the Copenhagen outcome, while Brazil took aim at the United States.

Sweden, current president of the European Union, said the summit was a "disaster" and declared both China and the United States, the world's number one and two polluters, responsible for the disappointing result.

In frenzied backroom haggling on Friday, leaders of some two dozen countries put together a "Copenhagen Accord" that strived to save the gruelling 12-day UN marathon from collapse.

It was then put to a full meeting of the 194-nation UNFCCC, where it ran into a firestorm early Saturday from a group of Latin American countries and from the spokesman for the G77 group gathering 130 poor nations.

In the end, the conference chairman gavelled the accord through, saying the meeting "takes note" of the document -- a procedural move that enabled its provisions to become operational.

The deal set the aim of limiting warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), but did not set a year by which carbon emissions should peak, nor did it spell out the aim for 2020, the important mid-term target year.

The accord, for the first time, did encompass emissions-curbing pledges by rich and poor nations, although none of these promises are binding.

A total of 30 billion dollars was pledged from 2010-2012 to help poor countries in the firing line of climate change, and rich nations sketched a target of providing 100 billion dollars annually by 2020.

Green activists and campaign groups slammed the deal for falling far below what scientists are claiming is needed to spear the threat from climate change.

Some singled it out as a backroom deal by the big players that usurped the consensus-driven UN approach.

De Boer urged all parties not to inflate or pull down the importance of the Copenhagen Accord.

"We shouldn't pretend it is anything more or anything less than what it is -- an agreement, a sense of direction that can help us in further negotiations."

He acknowledged, though, that what happened in Copenhagen "was a very extraordinary event."

"The fact of the matter is a small group of countries put this accord together, there wasn't enough time to get buy-in from the larger meeting and have it adopted in any kind of formal sense, and that's the reality."

The lesson from Copenhagen, said De Boer, was that it might be useful for a principal group of countries to propose a deal, but time was needed to have it debated and endorsed in a process "that is inclusive, representative and transparent."

He expected the UNFCCC's bureau -- a group of top officials dealing with operational matters -- to meet early next year to see whether more meetings would be needed in 2010.

At present, the programme is to a high-level meeting in Bonn in mid-year, followed by talks in Mexico City in December 2010 where the hugely complex pact would be sealed.

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Australia to do 'no more and no less' than others on climate
Sydney (AFP) Dec 22, 2009
Australia will do "no more and no less" than other nations to fight climate change, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said Tuesday, as he defended the outcome of global talks in Copenhagen. Rudd's centre-left government wants to introduce a carbon emissions trading scheme which will reduce the pollution responsible for global warming by between five and 25 percent of 2000 levels by 2020. ... read more

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