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British Prime Minister Gordon Brown: Climate Talk Progress Held for Ransom

LONDON, Dec. 21 (UPI) — The new global treaty was held hostage by some countries opposed to a deal in Copenhagen, Denmark, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Monday.

After nearly two weeks of stalled talks on a treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol for curbing greenhouse gases, the countries approved a five-page document that recognizes the need to limit global temperatures from rising no more than 2 degrees Celsius in 10 years, but doesn’t require signatories to take steps to address climate change. As explained by U.S. President Barack Obama Friday, countries will list “concrete commitments” into the document’s appendix, and would be subject to international consultation and analysis, leading to a hoped-for more binding document later.

Brown said the agreement — considered weak by environmental groups and some European leaders — called for reform of the way such negotiations occur, The Guardian reported.

Brown said the deal a “first step toward a new alliance to overcome the enormous challenges of climate change.” He also called on countries to show resolve to turn the agreement into a legally binding treaty.

“The talks in Copenhagen were not easy,” Brown said. “We must learn lessons from Copenhagen and the tough negotiations that took place. Never again should we face the deadlock that threatened to pull down these talks. Never again should we let a global deal to move towards a greener future be held to ransom by only a handful of countries.”

Looking ahead, Brown said the global community should consider international body to handle environmental stewardship.

“I believe that in 2010 we will need to look at reforming our international institutions to meet the common challenges we face as an international community,” Brown said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Energy & Fuels, International Relations & Treaties, Nature & Ecosystems, Policy, Law, & Government, Pollution & Toxins, Recycling & Waste0 Comments

U.N. Summit Once Coined as 'Hopenhagen' Turns into 'Flopenhagen'

BERLIN, Dec. 21 (UPI) — World leaders failed to put aside their national interests to save the climate at an utterly chaotic U.N. conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Representatives from nearly 200 countries met in Copenhagen for the past two weeks to hammer out a legally binding climate-protection treaty.

In the end, they got an accord that world leaders did not adopt, but “took note of,” meaning that it isn’t legally binding. The text includes a pledge to cap the temperature rise at 3.6 F, but it doesn’t spell out emissions-reduction targets for developed or developing countries. This is below experts’ most modest expectations. Instead of Hopenhagen, the Danish city is now called Flopenhagen.

The so-called Copenhagen Accord is the consensus negotiated by a number of world leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and South African President Jacob Zuma.

In the end, all the pledges by world leaders, including Obama, proved empty words, as neither the world’s biggest economy — the United States — nor the world’s biggest emitter — China — was willing to move on key issues.

British Premier Gordon Brown said a few countries held the talks “to ransom,” until they culminated in what many say is a lukewarm compromise.

“This is the best that we can get?” asked Kim Naodoo, the head of Greenpeace International. “Then essentially what the most powerful countries and particularly the United States is saying is that we are issuing a death warrant for people in small island states.”

But there is a glimmer of hope.

In an positive side to the accord, developed countries promised $30 billion in aid for poorer nations trying to deal with climate change between 2010 and 2012, a fund that is due to rise to as much as $100 billion a year by 2020.

And leaders have pledged to work hard in 2010 to get a legally binding agreement by the end of 2010 in Mexico City, where the next COP will take place.

In the United States, Obama will try to push through a clean energy and climate bill that might encourage China to boost its emissions reduction pledges as well. Yet Obama did not come to Copenhagen willing to boost America’s reduction pledges to soothe China, and it remains to be seen whether Beijing really drops the blocking attitude it brought to the recent summit.

“We should be conscious that a huge challenge lies ahead of us,” said Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. Next year’s conference in Mexico has to achieve “all the things we were supposed to achieve” in Copenhagen, he said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Energy, International Relations & Treaties, People, Policy, Law, & Government0 Comments

U.N Climate Change Summit Considered a 'Failure' to European Leaders

COPENHAGEN, Denmark, Dec. 21 (UPI) — The climate change summit in Denmark, expected to produce a historic document, fell way short of the mark, officials and organizations said.

European leaders called the two-week gathering at Copenhagen “disappointing” while environmental organizations characterized it as a “failure,” the EUobserver.com reported.

After nearly two weeks of stalled talks on a treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol for curbing greenhouse gases, the countries approved a five-page document that recognizes the need to limit global temperatures from rising no more than 2 degrees Celsius over 10 years, but doesn’t require signatories to take measures to address climate change.

As explained by U.S. President Barack Obama Friday, countries will list “concrete commitments” into the document’s appendix, and would be subject to international consultation and analysis, leading to a hoped-for more binding document later. Among other things, the accord also sets a goal of delivering $100 billion annually to developing countries to help them address climate change.

Fredrik Reinfeldt, Sweden’s prime minister and sitting as EU’s six-month rotating president, said the conference’s document won’t counter global warming.

“Let’s be honest. This is not a perfect agreement. It will not solve the climate threat,” he told EUobserver.com.

The agreement, while a step forward was “clearly below our ambitions,” European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said. “I will not hide my disappointment.”

The United States bullied developing countries “into backing a plan that completely undermines the existing U.N. process,” said Andy Atkins, Friends of the Earth executive director. “This summit has been a complete failure — the climate accord should be sent to the recycling bin.”

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Causes, Effects Of Air Pollution, International Relations & Treaties, Organizations, Other, Policy, Law, & Government, Recycling0 Comments

U.S. President Barack Obama Meets with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in Copenhagen

U.S. President Barack Obama Meets with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in Copenhagen

U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao during a bilateral at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, on December 18, 2009. UPI/Pete Souza/White House

Date Taken: December 18, 2009

Posted in International Relations & Treaties, Policy, Law, & Government0 Comments

U.S. President Obama Departs Washington for 2009 United Nations Summit on Climate Change in Copenhagen

U.S. President Obama Departs Washington for 2009 United Nations Summit on Climate Change in Copenhagen

U.S. President Barack Obama boards Marine One in Washington on December 17, 2009. President Obama is traveling to Copenhagen for the 2009 United Nations Summit on Climate Change. UPI/Alexis C. Glenn

Date Taken: December 17, 2009

Posted in Causes, Effects Of Air Pollution, International Relations & Treaties, Policy, Law, & Government0 Comments

U.S. President Obama Departs Washington for 2009 United Nations Summit on Climate Change in Copenhagen

U.S. President Obama Departs Washington for 2009 United Nations Summit on Climate Change in Copenhagen

U.S. President Barack Obama exits the Oval Office of the White House to board Marine One in Washington on December 17, 2009. President Obama is traveling to Copenhagen for the 2009 United Nations Summit on Climate Change. UPI/Alexis C. Glenn

Date Taken: December 17, 2009

Posted in International Relations & Treaties, Office, Policy, Law, & Government0 Comments

Climate Change Draft Accord Reached

COPENHAGEN, Denmark, Dec. 18 (UPI) — Climate change talks in Copenhagen, Denmark, have produced a draft accord calling for a 2-degree cap on global warming and aid to poor countries, diplomats say.

Participants at the U.N.-sponsored summit Friday said the deal lacks the legally binding pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions, but does include language for countries to work to limit a rise in global average temperatures, EUobserver reported. The draft also called for providing $100 billion in aid to developing countries to help them address climate change issues.

The European Union convened a special meeting of 26 world leaders Thursday and worked until early Friday, the last day of a two-week long event.

“We tried to find an umbrella political accord,” said Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, who holds the European Union rotating presidency.

U.S. President Barack Obama, who arrived in Copenhagen Friday and did not participate in the EU discussions, referred to the accord during his remarks.

While not perfect, he said, the draft language offered a foundation and offered three necessary principles: mitigation of climate-changing greenhouse gas emission, transparency in efforts to reduce emissions and financing of developing countries to address climate change.

“It is a clear formula — one that embraces the principle of common but differentiated responses and respective capabilities,” Obama said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Causes, Effects Of Air Pollution, International Relations & Treaties, Policy, Law, & Government0 Comments

World Leaders Try to Save Global Climate Protection Deal at U.N. Conference

COPENHAGEN, Denmark, Dec. 18 (UPI) — U.S. President Barack Obama and more than 100 other world leaders started last-minute attempts to reach a global climate protection deal at a U.N. conference in Denmark.

Obama was to meet with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, in a bilateral session that could save or bury the talks.

China is refusing to have its emissions monitored and the United States is resisting demands to boost its emissions reduction commitment beyond the 17 percent it promised by 2020. Observers have been frustrated by the positions of both countries.

Yet Obama, who landed in snowed-in Copenhagen Friday morning, appeared determined to broker a deal on the final day of a two-week summit.

“I come here today not to talk but to act,” Obama told the conference.

But he indicated no willingness to increase the United States’ emissions reduction commitments, a position criticized by major environment groups. Instead, he vowed that the United States was ready to help raise $10 billion until 2012, and $100 billion a year by 2020 for poor nations under a binding treaty that spells out emission reduction targets for industrialized nations — but only if that accord includes transparency measures ensuring that “we are living up to our mutual commitments.”

China has been unwilling to have its emissions monitored, a stance called a “deal-breaker” by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Obama urged China to move.

“I don’t know how you have an international agreement where we all are not sharing information and ensuring that we are meeting our commitments. That doesn’t make sense,” he said.

“We are ready to get this done today. But there has to be movement on all sides.”

Jiabao didn’t mention any willingness to accept more transparency measures but vowed that China will follow up on its voluntary climate protection commitments “with real action.”

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil delivered a memorable speech ahead of Obama, saying that his country, in a desperate effort to move talks forward, was “willing to make more sacrifices … (and) put forward money to help other countries. We will do it.”

Lula added he was “frustrated … because for a long time we have been discussing climate change,” without a meaningful outcome. Lula took part in all-night talks to save the deal and emerged saying that he was “laughing in order not to cry.”

Meanwhile, negotiators were able to agree to limit warming to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit compared with pre-industrial levels.

Obama vowed that the United States would continue to push clean energy at home and mitigate emissions reductions “no matter what happens here in Copenhagen.”

But he added that “we will all be more secure if we act together” by agreeing to an ambitious global climate protection treaty.

Any agreement reached in Copenhagen will have to be spelled out legally in the coming months. That means Copenhagen is only the beginning of the negotiation process.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Causes, Effects Of Air Pollution, Energy, International Relations & Treaties, Other, Policy, Law, & Government0 Comments

U.S. President Obama at Summit Trying for Climate Deal

COPENHAGEN, Denmark, Dec. 18 (UPI) — U.S. President Obama arrived in Copenhagen, Denmark, on the final day of the climate change summit, meeting with other heads of state trying to broker a deal.

Obama and at least 20 other world leaders met Friday to try to end the stalemate in the climate negotiations, CNN reported.

“We have had good, constructive discussions tonight. We hope to be able to reach a political umbrella agreement,” Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said after the meeting. Sweden holds the revolving European Union presidency.

White House officials said Obama was hoping to reach a non-binding agreement that would lead to a treaty later.

Obama was to meet with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao of China to try to urge China to allow independent verification of its emission reduction program. Chinese leaders earlier said the country’s laws would suffice and outside verification was not needed.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Thursday China “cannot consider that the transparency of efforts of all in any way undermines the sovereignty of each of us.”

China balks on the issue of transparency — proving a commitment to cut emissions — leading to a breakdown in negotiations Wednesday, U.S. and Chinese officials said.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said later countries committed to pursuing an agreement that has standards, including transparency, and hinted a refusal to agree to be transparent could be a deal-breaker.

Clinton also announced the United States would work with other countries to raise $100 billion by 2020 to address needs of developing countries to address climate change. She said the United States already is working with others to provide immediate funding that would reach $10 billion by 2012.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown urged leaders Thursday to agree on limiting long-term temperature increases to no more than 2 degrees.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Causes, International Relations & Treaties, Other, Policy, Law, & Government0 Comments

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Moves Copenhagen Climate Summit Talks Forward

COPENHAGEN, Denmark, Dec. 17 (UPI) — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton instilled the stalled Copenhagen climate negotiations with new hope Thursday when she pledged that Washington would help raise $100 billion a year by 2020 to help poor nations deal with climate change.

The announcement came a day before more than 100 world leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama, are due to meet in the Danish capital to sign a climate-protection treaty after two years of tedious negotiations.

It has been especially chaotic over the past days in the overcrowded Bella Center, with rich economies pitted against poor nations on several hot-potato issues.

“I know that the talks have been difficult,” Clinton said. “But the time is at hand for all countries to reach for common ground. … We have lost precious time in these past days. … It can no longer be about us versus them.”

The new finance commitment sends new hope as the United States and other rich nations had been slow to commit to long-term finance.

Yvo de Boer, the top U.N. climate official and probably the person who knows best what’s going on in the negotiations, was optimistic after Clinton’s statement.

“I would say hold tight and mind the doors — the cable car is moving again,” he said, adding, however, that he wanted to hear how much of the $100 billion Washington would contribute, which Clinton did not specify.

The sum is at the low end of what aid groups say developing countries need, but it’s in line with pledges from major powers, including the EU and Japan.

Clinton called it “a lot of money,” adding it was “appropriate, usable and will be effective.”

But only if there actually is a binding agreement.

Clinton warned Washington could not imagine one without regulations to boost transparency, mainly to monitor emissions by China.

Clinton said Washington would not agree to a deal “in the absence of transparency from … the first-biggest emitter and now nearly, if not already, the second-biggest economy.”

China recently surpassed the United States as the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases believed to cause global warming. It is also destined to overtake Japan as the world’s second-largest economy.

Observers say China has played a blocking role in the past 48 hours, indicating that it will not commit itself to a treaty containing legally binding emissions reductions. Washington would be ready to do so, but only if major emerging economies — include India, Brazil and Russia — hop on board, experts say.

But it’s not just China. The West will also have to convince African nations that it is doing enough. They said Thursday the industrialized countries need to boost their emissions reduction commitments and provide more money for the poorest nations or risk a collapse of the summit.

“To have no deal is better to have than a bad deal,” said Algeria’s Kamel Djemouai, speaking for the Africa Group.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel Thursday urged Western nations to come out with some last-minute attempts to save the negotiations.

“I hope that some industrialized countries can add to their current offers” of emissions reductions to reach global reductions of “at least minus 25 percent by 2020″ based on 1990 levels, Merkel said Thursday in a speech to representatives from nearly 200 countries here.

On the procedural side, things are moving again.

Two working groups were set up Thursday to hammer away at two texts — one would continue the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012, and a new, second one would formulate commitments for the United States, which has not adopted Kyoto, and the developing countries.

“This is very encouraging. We now have clarity on the process, we have clarity on the documents that will be the basis for work, we have clarity the process will be transparent,” de Boer said.

Clinton also managed to disperse rumors that Obama might not attend, saying he would do so Friday.

“Obviously we hope that he has something to come for,” she added.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Causes, Effects Of Air Pollution, International Relations & Treaties, Other, Policy, Law, & Government0 Comments

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