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New drafts bring more hope to Copenhagen

COPENHAGEN -- A flurry of draft proposals for new international climate agreements hit international negotiators today, bringing with them what many delegates and environmentalists called new momentum toward a climate deal.

Two drafts carry particular importance for the talks. One is a plan to extend the 1997 Kyoto Protocol (PDF), which sets greenhouse gas emission reductions for wealthy nations, but which the United States never ratified. The mere existence of that plan buoyed developing nations and international green groups, which have long worried that a Copenhagen climate agreement would spell the death of the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

The second draft (PDF) is a new agreement, proposed as a Kyoto companion, which would include U.S. emissions cuts and, as written, call upon developing nations to reduce emissions.  Authored by Michael Zammit Cutajar, the chairman of a working group that has toiled for two years, that draft begins to lay out the details of what most delegates call the likely result of the Copenhagen conference: a sort of framework climate deal that paves the way for a new international treaty in the next year or two.

Both drafts received a warm welcome here in Copenhagen’s Bella Center – particularly compared to the protests staged by developing countries and nonprofits over the so-called “Danish text” draft that leaked to news media earlier this week.

Plenty of details were left unfilled, including plans for financial aid from rich nations to help poorer ones adapt to changing climates and shift to low-emission energy sources. But longtime observers of climate talks said today's key drafts showed a level of seriousness on finding consensus on key issues not normally seen in the first week of a two-week negotiating conference.

“The texts take huge steps forward from where we’ve been,” said Keya Chatterjee, director of international climate negotiations for the World Wildlife Fund. “We’ve been waiting for a long time to have workable text that had buy-in” from negotiators.

Still, neither draft solves what has emerged as the chief stumbling block to a deal: the insistence, by the United States and other developed nations, that fast-growing developing countries such as China and India make clear in any agreement that they will follow through on their emissions-reduction pledges – and that the world has a way of independently checking whether those pledges are in fact being honored.

Underscoring the work left to do, U.S. Special Climate Envoy Todd Stern told reporters today that the proposed new agreement is “unbalanced in many ways” when it comes to emissions cuts. “The United States is not going to do a deal until developing countries step up,” he said.

But keeping with the optimism of the day, Stern said later, “I don’t think we’re all that far apart, based on the conversations we’ve had” with China. He added: “There actually literally is language that we both can agree to if we get to kind of the serious stage, and we’re getting there, I hope.”  Stern dismissed as impractical a third draft proposal, which a group of small island nations put forward early this morning. That draft would set far more aggressive reduction targets in order to hold global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels, as compared to the 2-degree goal the United States and other economic powers have embraced.

A press release from the island nations said the draft was designed “to safeguard the earth’s climate system and to secure the future survival of its 43 members, and the other low-lying and vulnerable developing countries at the front line of the devastating impacts of climate change.”

That proposal, however, was not the most ambitious of the day. Activists at Klimaforum09, a protest running parallel to the Copenhagen talks, issued a “People’s Declaration” for climate change (PDF), which a press release said would “initiate the restoration of the environmental, social and economic balance of planet Earth by means that are environmentally, socially and economically sustainable and equitable.”

The proposal, which was not widely discussed by delegates, calls for fossil fuels to be phased out globally within 30 years; for wealthy nations to pay a “climate debt” to the developing world; and for the rejection of “false and dangerous solutions” such as nuclear power, biofuels and technology to capture and store the greenhouse emissions from coal.

-- Jim Tankersley     

 
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In my opinion the success of the climate has nothing to do with hope. Yes for the eye of the press and the general public all the political leaders say that they will do all they can do do something about global warming but as we all know at this moment all that matters from them are the money and nothing else.

Barck Obama: "Climate change is a clear and present danger to our world that demands immediate attention. The United States is fully engaged and ready to lead and determined to make up for lost time, both at home and abroad."

USA with Obama lead has done more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions than ever before, and is demonstrating his with including historic investments in clean energy, green energy...Obama bring a new direction in the USA environmental politics!

The US and China have finally announced real numbers for their targets to reduce carbon emissions. Unfortunately these numbers, especially from the US, are far too weak. We need a strong agreement at Copenhagen, but this won’t get us there. In many ways, a weak agreement at Copenhagen could be even worse than no agreement, as it would lock in targets too small to make a significant difference.

"Hope" does not mean anything. Money is the only factor to determine the success or failure of the climate summit.

Thanks for the update......let me break it down for the morons who will be voting for Palin in 2012. As the world warms due to the carbon emissions released by mankind it causes polar ice caps to melt....thus causing a slow rise in sea levels. Just because it’s cold outside does not mean that this slow warming trend is not taking place.

The U.N. has conservatively estimated that to implement Kyoto-like greenhouse gas reductions would cost between two and three percent of “gross global output.” However, none of the proposed controls since Kyoto hold the promise (or even suggestion) of significant global greenhouse gas reductions -- at any cost. Climate crusaders acknowledge that a binding climate deal would not be done at Copenhagen -- no details of emissions targets, financing or technology transfer. Instead, efforts would be directed toward a two-stage process that would delay strict rulemaking for at least a year.
The first stage would attempt to get countries to contribute billions to a global fund to be distributed to developing countries to: 1) pay for low-carbon energy projects (carbon mitigation), and 2) pay for adaptation to the theoretically bad effects of global climate change ( flooding, crop loss, drought, refugees, etc). Note, that all of the predicted horrors of climate change are theoretical – unsupported by any empirical scientific data. Thus, the Copenhagen climate change enclave will extort “green guilt” money for the U.N. to hand out to favored tyrants in desperate developing countries based upon the fanciful belief ( a sort of "neo-paganism") that a manmade and existential warming apocalypse is occurring. As with many U.N. aid programs, these billions in climate change reparations will be used to prop up corrupt third-world tyrants; having little effect in improvement of the environment or in the lives of the suffering masses.
The climate crusade has become the central front in the war against capitalism.

The Copenhagen Conference's climate deal will set major policy initiatives and global standards, but if you're interested in what you can do on the local level there are lots of things for individuals and companies to do to make their lives green. If you’re interested in alternative energies or green technologies, check out http://www.greencollareconomy.com. It has hundreds of case studies on emerging green technology. It's also the largest b2b green directory on the web.

Great article. We need governments and legislation to help push the movement forward.

Steve Cohen (of Columbia's Earth Institute) recently wrote a great piece about climate politics and COP15.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steven-cohen/climate-politics-and-cope_b_387029.html

Hopefully, we'll see more political and legislative action out of Copenhagen. Obama won the Nobel Prize, now he has to earn it.

As I sit here shivering from the cold I wonder, when will this lunacy stop? We are headed for an Ice Age, not a Venusian meltdown.

Congratulation, L.A. Times! No mention of Climategate or how the earth may actually be COOLING right now! It takes a special sort of newspaper to make such a completely biased article! "We must cripple the economy all over the world to stop global warming now!!"

If this was really about climate change and the impeding doom upon the planet, a deal would have been done a long time ago in my opinion. This is all about MONEY and nothing more. Perhaps there is more truth then regarding the movie "2012". Ah, where is Noah when we need him, lets build the Arch.

Climate debt to the developing world? Are you kidding? What about the debt the developing world owes the West, since we invented, produced, and provided them with food, electricity, petroleum, automobiles, aviation, manufacturing, water systems, telephones, and on and on........including massive amounts of money!

Whatever the "developing" countries have been able to accomplish, despite their typically despotic leaders, has been thanks to the West, especially the USA. Seems to me we owe them nothing.......they owe us.

If the Ocean level is going to rise 60' in the next 40+ years, as claimed by the enviros, which Ocean will rise and along which Coast? Also, when can we expect this to begin? Seems to me that if the enviro-pagan shrill had and validity, the levels should be staring pretty soon.. So far, nada.. ergo: the global warming/climate change claims are 100% hoax. You liberals should try doing a little research.


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