Key issues at Copenhagen climate talksBy AP
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Key issues at Copenhagen climate talks
A look at key sticking points during negotiations at the U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen.
GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS
Industrialized nations are under pressure to cut back even more on emissions of carbon dioxide and other global-warming gases, while major developing countries such as China and India are being pressed to rein in their emissions growth. Environmentalists and poorer nations say richer countries should reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent or more by 2020, compared with 1990 levels, to avoid serious climate damage. The European Union has pledged 20 percent, and possibly 30 percent. The U.S. has offered only a 3 percent to 4 percent cut.
CLIMATE AID FOR POORER NATIONS
Richer nations have discussed a “prompt-start” package of $10 billion a year for three years to help developing nations adjust to the impact of global warming and switch to clean energy. Developing nations want to see commitments by wealthy nations for years more of long-term climate aid financing. Expert studies say hundreds of billions of dollars will be needed each year, and the developing nations are trying to establish stable revenue sources for the climate aid, such as a global aviation tax.
A program called REDD, for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, would pay poor countries to protect their forests. But the current draft includes no money for the program and no benchmarks to reduce deforestation, a major cause of greenhouse gas emissions. There are also disputes over how the money would be generated and whether this would be done on national or subnational level.
MONITORING OF PLEDGES
Developed nations already covered by the 1997 Kyoto Protocol would have their emission cuts monitored and would face possible sanctions if they don’t live up to their obligations. The U.S., which rejected Kyoto, would have its reductions monitored if they were incorporated in a legally binding international agreement. The developed nations want some kind of international verification of emissions actions by developing nations, though these countries would not face penalties. China, India and others are resisting what they consider potential intrusions on their sovereignty.
For Europe, Japan and other developed nations, new, deeper emissions cuts will take the form of an extension of quotas under the Kyoto Protocol. The U.S., which rejected Kyoto and wants to remain outside it, is likely to be included in a separate package that also deals with major developing countries. The level of legal obligation on each “track” may vary, particularly since the big developing countries — China and India — do not want to be bound by any international treaty to carry out their pledges of emission cuts. They prefer voluntary goals.
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