South African sees the U.S. creating 'a political conundrum' in climate talks
South Africa's top climate negotiator, Alf Wills, is being very cautious when it comes to prospects that a new global warming treaty will be signed in his country next year. In the wake of a failure to nail down a new binding agreement at last year's climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, European leaders and developing countries set their sights on 2011 -- when the South African city of Durban will host the conference.
Singapore envoy compares climate talk tensions to a Western movie
Extending the Kyoto Protocol will be key to getting a new climate change agreement that encompasses both developed and major developing countries, Singapore's environment minister said.
In an interview with ClimateWire, Minister Yaacob Ibrahim said developing countries will be loath to give up the Kyoto Protocol, which enshrines the idea that wealthy countries alone are responsible for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
Why Japan may opt out of extended Kyoto Protocol
Japan will not agree to a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, the country's climate change envoy told ClimateWire.
Ambassador Shinsuke Sugiyama said Japan, which hosted the talks that created the landmark 1997 global warming treaty, does not want to see it continue past 2012 as long as China and other major developing countries are exempt from commitments.
Canada clings to emissions target, despite rejection by its Senate
The recent defeat of Canada's climate change bill does not mean Canada will come empty-handed to the U.N. global warming summit next week, the country's chief negotiator said.
In an interview with ClimateWire, Ambassador for Climate Change Guy Saint-Jacques said he is "cautiously optimistic" about prospects for the upcoming conference in Cancun, Mexico. And, he insisted, Canada remains committed to meeting the target it pledged last year in Copenhagen, Denmark, despite the Senate defeat of legislation mandating nationwide emission cuts.
'Anything will be a big achievement' at Cancun, says Bangladesh envoy
As Pakistan suffered the worst flooding in its history this summer, Bangladesh, another neighbor of India, thirsted for rain. Its own wet season came early and strong, pushing saline water into rice fields. Then the normal monsoon season yielded insufficient rain, ruining still more crops across the poverty-stricken Southeast Asian nation.
The newest concerns about food crises in Bangladesh -- along with a long-standing need to improve dikes and dams and to develop saline-resistant strains of rice and other means of protecting the country from the impacts of climate change -- make adaptation the top priority at the upcoming U.N. global warming talks, said Ainun Nishat, vice chancellor of BRAC University in Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka.
Norway seeks to extend Kyoto treaty beyond 2012
Norway is prepared to sign a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, Environment Minister Erik Solheim told ClimateWire.
The 1997 treaty, which required industrialized nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions, has been "very useful," Solheim said. The first five-year period for countries to meet their targets, known as the first commitment period, ends in 2012.
Facing drought and rising seas, Seychelles expects little from U.S. in Cancun talks
Seychelles Ambassador Ronald Jean Jumeau is used to hearing clucks of sympathy about the fate of his Indian Ocean island nation. He's a little tired of it.
"Yes, people make sympathetic noises. When we talk to them, they put on serious faces, like they're going to a funeral," Jumeau said. "They are sympathetic like a mother hen. But it doesn't matter if there's a fox in the henhouse."
Costa Rica stakes out the middle ground at Cancun
The international climate change negotiations are riddled with vicious divisions -- between North and South, rich countries and poor ones, the industrialized world and the developing one.
Middle ground isn't an easy place to stake out in this dynamic, but it's the turf Costa Rica has chosen for itself. As countries prepare for the next U.N. climate conference, the ecologically minded Central American country is trying to find the sweet spot where different countries' national goals can intersect.
E.U. climate chief lays out nuanced vision for Cancun
The European Union is willing to consider a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol provided certain conditions are met, European Union Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said yesterday.
In a telephone interview with ClimateWire, the European climate chief said the 27 member states would also want to see emissions commitments from other major developed and developing nations. In addition, the 11 billion tons of unused carbon credits held by former Soviet Bloc countries -- which Hedegaard called "hot air" -- must be retired.
The little nation that could lead by example -- if it doesn't drown first
The Marshall Islands has an annual budget smaller than those of some American city school boards. But its leaders hope that when it comes to climate change, what the small cluster of Pacific Ocean coral atolls lacks in economic clout it can make up for in moral authority.
Last year, the Marshall Islands promised to cut its emissions 40 percent in the next decade. That's 40 percent of almost nothing -- the country, according to U.N. statistics, emits 99 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year, compared to China's 6.5 billion and America's 5.8 billion. It has a national energy policy that makes solar a priority, and is vying to install solar panels in every household.
An 'optimist' from the Arab world plunges into climate talks
The Copenhagen Accord should serve as the basis for an international climate change treaty, according to the United Arab Emirates' top global warming negotiator.
Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, special envoy for energy and climate change of the UAE as well as CEO of Masdar, the world's first zero-carbon city, said the delicate agreement struck in Denmark last year should be enshrined in a multilateral treaty. But in the meantime, he said, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol should be extended beyond its 2012 expiration date, protected and enhanced.
Venezuelan climate envoy recalls 'bloody palm' incident, has high hopes for Cancun
For the bleary-eyed diplomats, activists and journalists watching the final, bitter dawn of last year's climate change conference, the blood dripping from Claudia Salerno's palm was the most surreal moment of them all.
"Do you think a sovereign country has to actually cut its hand and draw blood?" the lead Venezuelan negotiator angrily demanded of the Danish hosts and U.N. officials after repeated calls for a point of order were ignored. Holding up her palm that morning, Salerno declared, "This hand, which is bleeding now, wants to speak, and it has the same right of any of those which you call a representative group of leaders."
Finland environment minister sees hope for climate talks in deforestation agreement
For Finland Environment Minister Paula Lehtomäki, a possible agreement on deforestation is the one bright spot amid a dismal landscape at the U.N. climate talks. The rest, she said, is "much more challenging."
Since last year's climate summit in the Danish capital of Copenhagen, discussions toward a new or revised international treaty have inched forward only slightly, Lehtomäki said. In some areas, she said, countries are even backtracking -- like over whether and how major developing countries should report the mitigation pledges they made in the so-called Copenhagen Accord. As countries prepare for the next annual U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change conference in Cancun, Mexico, the goals remain unsettled.
Bolivian climate ambassador calls for more ambitious targets
Bolivian U.N. Ambassador Pablo Solon remembers working in the bowels of Copenhagen, Denmark's Bella Center last year, haggling late into the night over proposed climate change treaty text with other developing country negotiators. Suddenly, President Obama appeared on the closed-circuit television to announce the creation of the Copenhagen Accord.
"I thought, what are we doing here? We're analyzing a text while the president of the United States is announcing there has already been an agreement?" Solon recalled. The group then learned they would have an hour to read and approve the new agreement.
After the flood, vulnerability drives Pakistan's position
It took a catastrophic flood that displaced 20 million people for the world to recognize Pakistan's vulnerability to global warming, the country's lead climate change negotiator said.
Farrukh Iqbal Khan, who will lead Pakistan's delegation at next month's U.N. climate talks in Cancun, Mexico, said the devastating impact of the July floods underscores a point he says the country has long made: The consequences of rising global temperatures are not felt just by small island nations and the U.N.-designated Least Developed Countries (LDCs).
Brazil plans a price on oil to accelerate climate efforts
Brazil expects to see its lowest rates of illegal deforestation since 1988 by the end of this year.
Minister of Environment Izabella Teixeira said the government will reduce the annual chopping and burning of the Amazon rainforest to between 4,000 and 5,000 square kilometers. The figures will be announced in the run-up to this year's U.N. climate change conference in Cancun, Mexico, this December.