Other stories below: Merkel Demands China, India and Brazil Reduce Emissions; China Says Economic Woes No Excuse for Climate Action
Global climate talks need to focus on the growing threat from extreme weather and shift away from political squabbles that hobble progress toward a tougher pact to rein in greenhouse gas emissions, the head of the U.N. climate panel said.
Negotiators from nearly 200 countries meet in Durban, South Africa, on Monday for two-week talks, with minimal expectations of major progress toward an agreement that will eventually bind all major economies to emissions caps.
Rajendra Pachauri warned the latest round of talks risked being bogged down by “short-term and narrow political considerations.”
“It is absolutely essential that the negotiators get a continuous and repeated exposure to the science of climate change,” Pachauri told Reuters in an interview late on Tuesday.
“If we were to do that it will definitely have an impact on the quality and outcome of the negotiations, after all these are human beings, they have families, they are people also worried about what is going to happen to the next generations.”
Economic problems in Europe and elsewhere should not get in the way of a new pact to fight global warming, China’s top climate official said on Tuesday ahead of major climate talks in South Africa.
“After the financial crisis, every country has had its problems, but these problems are just temporary,” Xie Zhenhua, vice-director of the National Development and Reform Commission, told reporters on Tuesday.
Officials in Beijing have suggested economic turmoil in Europe and political unrest in North Africa have pushed climate change far down the list of global priorities, overshadowing next week’s talks and undermining plans to provide cash and technical support to poor nations to adapt to climate change.
“Climate change isn’t unimportant at this stage, but it isn’t so salient, and I think it will again draw the attention of the global community in 2015 after the (new round of) scientific assessments are carried out,” said Xie.
He was referring to a review of nations’ emissions reduction pledges and a major 2013-14 report by the U.N. climate panel.
Europe may find itself isolated at a meeting of Major Economies Forum in Washington this week with India and United States being on the same page on opposing the legally binding climate treaty. The forum will be discussing the future of the existing climate treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, and the ambit of the proposed new climate treaty under long term cooperative action to fight climate change.
The European Union has sought that the second commitment period of the protocol, starting from 2013, should have legally binding emission reduction targets for all nations, which India and United States have opposed.The EU has proposed that after 2020 there should be a mandatory emission reduction targets for all countries including developing nations such as India and China. Between 2013 and 2020, the countries will have to commit on their voluntary climate change actions without any conditions.
India has declared to reduce its emission intensity by 20-25% of its 2005 levels by 2020 with a condition that rich nations would provide money and transfer clean technology to meet the target. So far, rich nations have been dithering on funding the clean technology transfer mechanism and providing finance to the developed world to fight climate change.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday large emitters of greenhouse gases among rapidly-growing economies such as China, India and Brazil must agree to cut their emissions.
Merkel said in parliament: “Worldwide CO2 emissions this year were higher than ever. We are in an extremely difficult situation where the Kyoto Protocol expires, we have not got far and an extension of the protocol will unfortunately not happen in Durban.
Negotiators from almost 200 countries meet from November 28 in South Africa for a U.N. climate summit, where only modest steps are expected toward cutting greenhouse gas emissions despite warnings from scientists that extreme weather will likely increase as the planet warms.
The Kyoto Protocol, the U.N. plan obliging some 40 industrialised nations to cut emissions, expires next year. Rich nations are reluctant to target major emission cuts beyond 2012 without commitments from big developing economies to curb theirs. The latter want to see deeper cuts from wealthy nations.
The World Meteorological Organization said on Monday the three main greenhouse gases blamed for global warming reached record levels in 2010.
According to a poll by The Economist taken during last week’s virtual Global Energy Conference, just 15% of respondents think that any substantial deals on climate change will be reached at next week’s COP-17 in Durban, South Africa. Brazil, on the other hand, is keeping the faith.
A signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, Brazil has its own set of national laws that bind the country to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and invest in new, cleaner tech. The country’s ambassador for the UN Climate Change Conference, Luis Alberto Figueiredo Machado, said that the country feels no pressure to reduce carbon emissions to meet international Kyoto agreements. They’re going to meet those goals easily.
He also said that despite the U.S. Congress generally in disagreement on climate change, with politicians out of lock step with most Americans who believe climate change is a problem, Brazil believes that the U.S. will deliver on climate change. Some day.
“We are absolutely convinced that the U.S. government will do what they said in terms of reducing CO2. They are a major party in (climate change) negotiations. We are confident,” he said during a press conference on Monday.
Societe Generale cut its price forecasts for European Union and U.N.-backed carbon permits on Tuesday due to an expected drop in industrial emissions and flagging demand for permits due to prospects of a recession in the euro area next year.
Carbon permits called EU Allowances (EUAs) are traded under the EU’s emissions trading scheme (EU ETS), which caps the emissions of 11,000 carbon-intensive power stations and industrial firms in 30 countries.
The benchmark EUA price slumped to a new 33-month low of 8.88 euros ($11.96) a tonne on Monday as worries mount about the EU’s economic health, shedding nearly 40 percent since the start of the year.
“This should lead to lower European industrial production and should be broadly unsupportive for carbon demand.” The bank said in a research note.