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Question of the Day
CANCUN, MEXICO (AP) - A U.N. climate conference on Saturday approved a deal to create a “green” fund for developing countries and to take other small steps to address global warming, over heated objections from Bolivia that the pact doesn’t go far enough.
The agreement in Cancun went a long way to restoring faith in the unwieldy U.N. process after the letdown a year ago at a much-anticipated summit in Copenhagen, though an overarching accord to slash global emission is being deferred another year.
The new agreement creates “building blocks” for a new global pact and, unexpectedly, gives recognition to the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from industrial countries by 25 to 40 per cent from 1990 levels within the next 10 years. Current pledges amount to about 16 percent.
Debate on a larger pact was deferred to the 2011 conference in Durban, South Africa.
Mexican Foreign Secretary Patricia Espinosa, the conference president, gaveled the two-part deal early Saturday over the objections of Bolivia. Decisions at the U.N. climate talks are typically made by consensus, but Espinosa said consensus doesn’t “mean that one country has the right to veto” decisions supported by everyone else.
The accord establishes a multibillion dollar annual Green Climate Fund to help developing countries cope with climate change, though it doesn’t say how the fund’s money is to be raised. It also sets rules for internationally funded forest conservation, and provides for climate-friendly technology to expanding economies.
Espinosa won repeated standing ovations from a packed conference hall for her deft handling of bickering countries and for drafting an acceptable deal _ though it fully satisfied no one.
Country after country praised the document, though flawed, as the best available deal. But Bolivia’s chief delegate Pablo Solon refused to go along with the package, arguing it was dangerous because it was too weak to stop rising temperatures.
The draft Cancun deal finesses disputes between industrial and developing countries on future emissions cuts and incorporates voluntary reduction pledges attached to the Copenhagen Accord that emerged from last year’s climate summit in the Danish capital.
The draft strikes a skillful compromise between the U.S. and China, which had been at loggerheads throughout the two week conclave on methods for monitoring and verifying actions to curtail greenhouse gases.
“What we have now is a text that, while not perfect, is certainly a good basis for moving forward,” said chief U.S. negotiator Todd Stern. His Chinese counterpart, Xie Zhenhua, sounded a similar note and added, “The negotiations in the future will continue to be difficult.”
The accord “goes beyond what we expected when we came here,” said Wendel Trio of the Greenpeace environmental group.
Underscoring what’s at stake in the long-running climate talks, NASA reported that the January-November 2010 global temperatures were the warmest in the 131-year record. Its data indicated the year would likely end as the warmest on record, or tied with 2005 as the warmest.
Solon protested that the weak pledges condemned the Earth to temperature increases of up to 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 F), which was tantamount to “ecocide” that could cost millions of lives.
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