Monday, March 30, 2009

UNFCCC fast approaching

This week marks the first session of the UN-sponsored negotiating sessions this year. They are taking place at the UNFCCC’s headquarters in Bonn, Germany. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) executive secretary Yvo de Boer noted that “the clock is ticking down and countries still have much work to cover.” Although it appears as though there are 8 months left to the culminating international climate change deal to be signed in Copenhagen, Denmark in December, de Boer explained that only 6 weeks of negotiating time is left, including this session in Bonn. De Boer outlined the four points on which clarity is needed:

1) On what industrialized countries will do, through individual targets, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
2) On what developing countries will do to limit the growth of their emissions
3) On finance, since developing countries cannot be expected to act on this issue without financial support
4) On governance, since a governance structure is needed that gives an equal voice to developing countries in how the resources available for mitigation and adaptation are used.

The United States special envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern has been greeted both by applause and disapproval. Loud applause from the 2,600 delegates to the U.N. negotiations met Stern’s statement: "We are very glad to be back. We want to make up for lost time, and we are seized with the urgency of the task before us."

Although Obama has set aside $80 billion in his economic stimulus package for green energy, promised $150 billion for research over 10 years, and was tightening regulations on auto emissions, representatives from other nations are saying that this is not enough. There is need for a tight cap on GHG emissions and this will be dictated by whatever deal Obama can strike with Congress.

Germany's environment minister, Sigmar Gabriel, said “the US has insufficient climate protection goals, at least as far as the international community is concerned." The US must lead in its efforts to combat climate change by imposing strict self-regulation in order to negotiate effectively with other nations. The Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention will hopefully allow for this leadership to materialize.

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