UN conference adopts extension of Kyoto accord

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 8, 2012 at 1:22 pm •  Published: December 8, 2012
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"We are now on our way to the new regime," European Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said. It definitely wasn't an easy ride, but we managed to cross the bridge."

"Hopefully from here we can increase our speed," she added. "The world needs it more than ever."

The goal of the U.N. talks is to keep temperatures from rising more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 Celsius), compared to preindustrial times. Temperatures have already risen about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 Celsius) above that level, according to the latest report by the U.N.'s top climate body.

A recent projection by the World Bank showed temperatures are on track to rise by up to 7.2 Fahrenheit (4 Celsius) by the year 2100.

"For all of the nations wrestling with the new reality of climate change - which includes the United States - this meeting failed to deliver the goods," said Alden Meyer, of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

"At the end of the day, ministers were left with two unpalatable choices: accept an abysmally weak deal, or see the talks collapse in acrimony and despair — with no clear path forward," Meyer said.

Poor countries came into the talks in Doha demanding a timetable on how rich countries would scale up climate change aid for them to $100 billion annually by 2020 — a general pledge that was made three years ago.

But rich nations, including the United States, members of the European Union and Japan are still grappling with the effects of a financial crisis and were not interested in detailed talks on aid in Doha.

The agreement on financing made no reference to any mid-term financing targets, just a general pledge to "identify pathways for mobilizing the scaling up of climate finance."

Tim Gore, climate policy adviser at British aid group Oxfam said the Doha deal imperiled the lives and livelihoods of the world's poorest communities, who are the most vulnerable to shifts in climate.

"It's nothing short of betrayal of the responsibilities of developed countries," he said. "We are now in the red zone in fighting climate change."

Small island nations scored a victory by getting the conference to adopt a text on "loss and damage," a relatively new concept which relates to damages from climate-related disasters.

Island nations under threat from rising sea levels have been pushing for some mechanism to help them cope with such natural catastrophes, but the United States has pushed back over concerns it might be held liable for the cleanup bill since it is the world's second-biggest emitter behind China.

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Karl Ritter can be reached at www.twitter.com/karl_ritter and Michael Casey Casey at www.twitter.com/mcasey1



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