NEGOTIATIONS

Binding climate deal unlikely until next year

The deadline to strike a new global climate change deal will likely slip until the end of next year, leaders on both sides of the Atlantic say.

"I don't think we can get a legally binding agreement by Copenhagen," said the U.N.'s climate chief Yvo de Boer yesterday in Barcelona. "I think that we can get that within a year after Copenhagen."

U.S. Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.), chair of the Senate's foreign relations committe, echoed de Boer's thoughts Wednesday at a seminar in Washington.

"We have to be honest in the process and deal with the realities that we don't have time in these four weeks to put the language together and flesh out every crossed T and dotted I of a treaty," he said.

"What I am looking for is a binding and real political agreement where the world comes together in Copenhagen with an agreement for fixed reductions that are measurable, verifiable and reportable," Kerry said. "Then you set either a June or July date or the Mexico date in December next year and work on the language in that year" (Goldenberg/Vidal, London Guardian, Nov. 4).

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The last round of U.N. talks prior to the two-week summit in Copenhagen concluded today in Barcelona. The Copenhagen meeting was originally intended as the deadline for a global deal.

Many of the most powerful countries, like the United States and China, have been hesitant to lay out their negotiating cards ahead of the Copenhagen summit. Few specifics are clear, for example, on how much funding will be available to help poor nations adapt to the effects of climate change.

"They're playing a game that's self-defeating," said Lumumba Di-Aping, a Sudanese envoy who represents 130 developing nations. "It's a jigsaw that has to be done earlier rather than later" (Alex Morales, Bloomberg, Nov. 6).

About 40 heads of state will likely be present at the meeting in Copenhagen if some agreement can be reached, de Boer added, including British Prime Minister Gordon Brown (Reuters, Nov. 6). -- PV

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