Posted by: Tony Carson | 3 December, 2009

The essentials in Copenhagen

Rather than getting every small detail of a new global climate treaty done in Copenhagen, UN climate chief Yvo de Boer hopes the conference will reach agreements on four political essentials — news release from United Nations Climate Change Conference Dec 7-18, 2009

1. How much are the industrialized countries willing to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases?

2. How much are major developing countries such as China and India willing to do to limit the growth of their emissions?

3. How is the help needed by developing countries to engage in reducing their emissions and adapting to the impacts of climate change going to be financed?

4. How is that money going to be managed?

The new climate treaty will be replacing the Kyoto Protocol which was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, in December 1997 and entered into force on 16 February 2005.

The Kyoto Protocol which sets binding targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions has been signed and ratified by 184 parties of the UN Climate Convention. One notable exception is the United States, and Yvo de Boer is “really happy” to see the US back in the international climate change process and that the US is also engaging domestically in the process.

“My big lesson from the Kyoto era is that it’s really important that the government delegation that represents the United States is in close touch with the Senate, with the elected officials on what’s acceptable and what’s not,” says de Boer, and he adds:

“I think that a major shortcoming of Kyoto was that the official delegation came back with a treaty they knew was never going to make it through the Senate. And this time I have the feeling that the communication is much stronger, that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, through John Kerry, is really expressing strongly what they feel needs to be done in Copenhagen.”

Yvo de Boer thinks the Kyoto Protocol was rejected by the US for mainly two reasons. Firstly, because it did not involve action on the part of major developing countries. Secondly, because it was felt by the Bush administration that Kyoto would be harmful to the US economy.

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