11 Dec 2009:
Draft Climate Treaty Released;
EU Pledge of Funds Angers Poorer Nations
Negotiators released a six-page draft of a climate treaty Friday that calls for limiting global temperature increases to 2.7 to 3.6 degrees F and cutting greenhouse gas emissions by at least half by 2050
. The draft, distilled from a 180-page document, now becomes the focus of negotiations as leaders from 110 nations descend on Copenhagen next week in an effort to forge a treaty limiting greenhouse gas emissions. The draft left many questions unanswered
, as it called for reductions in greenhouse gases by
mid-century ranging from 50 to 95 percent. It makes clear that wealthy nations must bear the main responsibility for slashing CO2 emissions in the next decade, stipulating that they set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas output by 25 to 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. Current pledges add up to about an 18 percent reduction
. The draft text does not require developing countries, including China and India, to agree to specific emissions reductions targets, but states that they “may undertake autonomous mitigation actions” to limit the increase of their emissions. Negotiators had set a target of holding global temperature rises to 2 degrees C (3.6 F). But pressure from island nations — which face inundation as sea levels rise — and poor nations persuaded negotiators to set a maximum temperature target ranging from 1.5 degrees C (2.7 F) to 2 degrees C.
As the Copenhagen climate summit entered its fifth day, European Union officials in Brussels said that they would contribute $3.5 billion annually to a fund designed to help poor nations adapt to global warming
and develop renewable energy technologies. The U.S. also said it would contribute to this so-called “fast-start fund,” which officials hope will raise about $10 billion annually for the poor nations in Africa, Asia, and South America expected to be most severely affected by global warming. The U.N.’s chief climate negotiator, Yvo de Boer, has suggested that the world’s wealthiest nations raise $30 billion annually for the adaptation and green technology fund. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the two principal forces behind the creation of the fund, proposed that it be supported by a tax on global financial transactions
— an idea the U.S has opposed.
Developing countries sharply criticized the fund — to be initially set up for a three-year period — as being grossly inadequate and too short-lived
. Lumumba Stanislaus-Kaw Di-Aping, head of the G-77 bloc of developing nations, said, “I believe (the funds) are not only insignificant, they actually breed even more distrust on the intentions of European leaders on climate change.” Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei dismissed the EU proposal, adding, “I doubt the sincerity of developed countries in their commitment.”
The vice foreign minister joined the war of words between China and the U.S.
, which have been pressuring each other to commit to greater reductions of greenhouse gases. The U.S.’s chief climate negotiator, Todd Stern, said earlier in the week that the U.S. would not made funds available to help the Chinese develop renewable energy. Stern’s message was that China, with its booming economy and thriving renewable energy sector, does not need aid from industrialized countries in the same way that far poorer countries do. He Yafei excoriated Stern Friday, saying, “I was shocked, personally, to read the American negotiator’s (comment). I don’t want to say the gentleman is ignorant, because he is very well educated, but I think he lacked common sense when he made such a comment vis-à-vis funds for China. Either lack of common sense or he is extremely irresponsible.”
He Yafei compared the wealthy world to people eating at a fancy restaurant who are joined by a poor friend and then demand that the friend help pay for the entire meal. “We are not asking for donations,” said He Yafei. “They have a legal responsibility – the U.S. included. Whoever created this (emissions) problem, they are responsible.”
The New York Times profiles Stern, a 58-year-old Harvard Law School graduate known for both his blunt style and respected diplomatic skills
. The Times notes that after flying into Copenhagen on Wednesday, Stern took a quick shower then held a news conference in which he criticized the Chinese for not doing enough to cut greenhouse gas emissions, rebuked the Europeans for demanding too much from the U.S., and told the world’s developing nations that while the U.S. would contribute to a climate adaptation fund, it would not pay “reparations” for its high level of cumulative CO2 emissions.
Relations between China and the U.S. are likely to be further strained by remarks made by the U.S. Commerce Secretary, Gary Locke. Speaking in Copenhagen, Locke said the U.S. would not rule out imposing trade barriers on nations that do not commit to emissions cuts
and use that financial advantage to send cheap exports to the U.S. “It’s very important that we have a level playing field for American companies,” said Locke. China’s has been reluctant to agree to firm emissions reductions targets, saying that the major historical emitters of CO2, including the U.S., must make the deepest cuts as developing countries struggle to emerge from poverty. Earlier this year, Chinese officials reacted angrily to suggestions by U.S. officials that they might impose trade tariffs on China or other nations who do not reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Also on Friday, Danish police arrested 68 climate activists
as they attempted to disrupt meetings of 15 corporations and industry lobbying groups, whom the activists accuse of being “climate criminals.” The arrests marked the first widespread detention of protesters since the climate summit got underway Monday.
In the U.S., three influential senators — Democrat John Kerry of Massachusetts, a Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and independent Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut — released a draft of a climate bill
. To appeal to moderates, the bill calls for government incentives for offshore oil and gas drilling and government support for nuclear power plant construction. The bill proposes a very modest cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 — about four percent below 1990 levels. U.S. negotiators in Copenhagen cannot promise more significant reductions because Congress is unwilling to embrace larger cuts; the House of Representatives has passed a bill calling for the four percent reduction. But as the Copenhagen conference opened, the head of the Environmental Protection Administration announced that her agency will regulate greenhouse emissions as a threat to human health under the Clean Air Act, paving the way for the Obama administration to act even if Congress fails to pass a climate bill.
In Japan, the nation’s environmental minister said as he was preparing to fly to Copenhagen that unless the U.S. and China commit to specific greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, Japan may withdraw its pledge to slash emissions by 25 percent
below 1990 levels by 2020. Environmental Minister Sakihito Ozawa, noting that China and the U.S. are the world’s two largest emitters of greenhouse gases, said, “There’s no meaning to simply extending a Kyoto Protocol that doesn't include the United States or numbers from China. We’re not at all thinking of (pledging) a number in that case.”
Meanwhile, experts on China’s economy said that even if China continues to adopt renewable energy technologies and improve energy efficiency, the nation’s soaring economic growth will mean that its carbon dioxide emissions will increase by 75 percent from 2005 to 2020
. A French climate analyst said that if the Chinese economy grows by eight percent a year, its CO2 emissions will rise from 7.2 billion tons in 2005 to 12.6 billion tons in 2020. The increase would occur even if China fulfills a pledge to reduce its carbon intensity — the amount of CO2 emissions per unit of gross domestic product — by 40 percent.
In Beijing, Chinese officials credited the nation’s one-child policy with significantly reducing the nation’s carbon footprint
. Since its adoption in 1979, the one-child policy has resulted in 400 million fewer people being born in China, officials said. Had those people been born, the nation’s annual CO2 emissions would have been nearly 2 billion tons higher today, officials said. China has a population of 1.2 billion.