SPIEGEL ONLINE's Climate Countdown: Progress in Copenhagen Despite No New Offers from Obama
Part 2: Climate News from December 17
US President Barack Obama brought no new offers with him to Copenhagen on Friday, but he has made progress in talks with China.
Merkel, EU Seek Breakthrough As Copenhagen Stalls
With many signs pointing Thursday to a failure at the UN climate change summit in Copenhagen, the European Union called for an emergency meeting of "relevant players" on Thursday afternoon in a bid to rescue summit talks. The Swedish EU presidency and the European Commission issued a statement saying they sought "to decisively step up the negotiation." The EU called for "a meeting with relevant players to be convened this evening to help build a consensus for a global deal that produces an ambitious outcome to this conference."
After arriving in Copenhagen on Thursday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated the urgency of a binding agreement, saying that industrial nations must reduce their CO2 emissions by 25 percent by 2020 and that developing nations must start to do their part, too. Meanwhile, French President Nicolas Sarkozy warned the summit could end in "catastrophe." He also called for a meeting of decision-makers from all continents to debate a compromise text after dinner on Thursday with Denmark's Queen Margrethe.
In a speech given Thursday, Merkel noted that the European Union had agreed to reduce emissions by 20 percent by 2020 and that it would agree to a 30 percent reduction if other countries came on board. But she said other countries must now increase their pledges in order to prevent global temperatures from rising by more than an average of 2 degrees Celsius.
"We have the chance of achieving that," she said. Merkel also admonished developing nations like China to start accepting incremental binding limits.
Merkel added that Germany would provide its fair share of the $100 billion a year needed starting in 2020 for poorer countries to undertake climate protection initiatives and to deal with the consequences of global warming. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also said her country would join others in raising that money.
Hopes Fade in Copenhagen, as Leaders Arrive
With just two days left, the Copenhagen climate talks are on thinner ice than polar bears in the Arctic.
A number of countries have signalled that the talks are in trouble. China told conference participants that a detailed agreement to combat climate change wasn't possible, according to Reuters, who cited an official from another country involved in the talks. Danish daily Berlingske Tidende and the TV channel DR are reporting that the Danish negotiators have also abandoned hope for a climate agreement, citing government insiders. The Wall Street Journal reported that the White House described the talks as "deadlocked" on Wednesday.
Even Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel is doubtful. "The news reaching us isn't good. At the moment, there doesn't seem to be any reasonable negotiation process in sight," said Merkel in Berlin on Thursday. Merkel added that she hopes the presence of world leaders can give the conference the boost it needs right now.
As 120 leaders, including US President Barack Obama and Chancellor Merkel, arrive from all over the world to join in the last two days of talks, a number of roadblocks still remain. Industrialized nations and developing countries are still sparring over emissions cuts. Chancellor Merkel on Thursday echoed what many are saying, calling the emissions reduction pledges from the US -- the largest polluter in the world in per capita terms -- not good enough.
"I must say very honestly that the United States offer to cut (emissions) by 4 percent compared to 1990 levels is not ambitious," she said, speaking to the German parliament on Thursday. The EU by comparison has pledged a 20 percent cut in emissions by 2020 relative to 1990 levels and Germany has pledged a 30 percent cut.
Meanwhile, Lumumba Stanislaus Di-Aping, a Sudanese diplomat and spokesman for the coalition of developing nations called the Group of 77, has called a proposed offer of $10 billion in compensation from developed nations inadequate, according to the New York Times.
There are some encouraging signs, however, that all is not lost in Copenhagen. The White House on Wednesday pledged $1 billion to a $3.5 fund aimed at curbing deforestation in developing countries. The offer is contingent on some sort of deal coming out of the climate talks. At the same time, President Obama has telephoned leaders in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Brazil, Grenada, France, Germany and the UK to lobby for an agreement, according to the Wall Street Journal. Africa lowered the amount of aid it was willing to accept in an effort to spur on negotiations, while Japan pledged $12 billion to fight climate change in developing nations, Reuters is reporting.
But the hard work is clearly still ahead. Even after all-night negotiating sessions on Wednesday, much of the climate change agreement was still in dispute. "The final negotiations will be tense and strenuous," Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen warned in the New York Times.
Chancellor Merkel reminded everyone of the initial goal to limit global warming to just 2 degrees Celsius, and the consequences for failing. "All (scientific) reports make clear that if we can't agree to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius then the costs will be far greater than a change in our lifestyles," she said. "If we are not able to achieve this, then the summit in Copenhagen will be a failure," she added.
US and Denmark See China as Roadblock to Climate Change Agreement
Is everyone simply blaming China out of convenience or is China really to blame?
The talks in Copenhagen have stalled with only two days to go. Finger pointing is abundant, but a lot of fingers seem to be pointed at China. The New York Times reported Thursday that China has dragged its feet all week, raising technical objections to the text on the table. One such objection, not obviously technical from the outset, happened on Wednesday when Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen requested that delegates begin high level talks over a new Danish draft plan that China said it had not been fully consulted on. To be sure, Brazil, India and Sudan also objected.
Rasmussen seemed annoyed. "I think the world is expecting us to reach an agreement addressing climate change and not just discussing procedure, procedure, procedure," he was quoted as saying in the New York Times.
China wasn't impressed. "I think the matter is not just procedure, procedure, procedure. I think it's substance.... You can't just put forward some text from the sky," Su Wei, deputy head of the Chinese delegation in Copenhagen, fired back.
Meanwhile, China and the US continue to butt heads over how proposed emissions cuts would be monitored. Any new deal must include international monitoring of emissions cuts, in order for the US to sign on, something China has refused. Robert Gibbs, White House Press Secretary, commented that any agreement where there is no transparency to determine whether countries are meeting their obligation is "unenforceable" and "nonverifiable."
As far as China is concerned, its word is good enough. "China is very sincere in its energy-conservation and environment-protection drive," said Su Wei, according to the Wall Street Journal.
- Part 1: Progress in Copenhagen Despite No New Offers from Obama
- Part 2: Climate News from December 17
- Part 3: Climate News from December 16
- Part 4: Climate News from December 15
- Part 5: Climate News from December 14
- Part 6: Climate News from December 11
- Part 7: Climate News from December 10
- Part 8: Climate News from December 9
- Part 9: Climate News from December 8
- Part 10: Climate News from December 7
- Part 11: Climate News from December 4
- Part 12: Climate News from December 3
- Part 13: Climate News from December 2
- Part 14: Climate News from Dec. 1
- Part 15: Climate News from Nov. 30
- Part 16: Climate News from Nov. 27
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