- Obama mulls support for Islamists in Syria, with conditions
- Obama ‘birther’ theories float, as Hawaii health director killed in crash
- U.S. drone faulted for killing 14 ‘innocent civilians’ at Yemen wedding
- GOP hopes taking shutdown off the table with budget deal will pay dividends
- Chinese Death Star: The moon cited as the perfect launch pad for ballistic missiles
- Help wanted: Homeland Security plagued by vacancies at the top
- We are not amused: Queen’s protection officers warned to keep ‘sticky fingers’ off the royal cashews
- Unleash the crossbows: Gov. Scott Walker creates new hunting season
- Bubonic plague kills 20 in Madagascar
- G-20 diplomats fell for hacker attack promising nude photos of former French first lady Carla Bruni
Cancun climate talks hunt for compromises
CANCUN, MEXICO (AP) - With just two days left, delegates to the annual U.N. climate conference haggled and cajoled into the night in search of compromise on a raft of issues, including whether industrial nations should generate $100 billion a year, or up to $600 billion, to help poorer countries cope with global warming.
“The progress made is encouraging, but unresolved issues are still many,” Zimbabwe’s Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe, chair of a conference working group, said Wednesday of the half-dozen key disputes. “We need to do better and we need to do more.”
This year again the U.N. talks will fail to produce an overarching deal to slash emissions of global warming gases. From the start, the two weeks of talks focused instead on reaching agreement in secondary areas under the U.N. climate treaty.
Setting up a “green fund” for developing nations would top the list of conference accomplishments, and late Wednesday the special climate envoy of host Mexico foresaw success.
“Our expectation is it will be decided at Cancun,” said Luis Alfonso de Alba.
Earlier, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, leading a discussion on climate financing, described the fund as “crucial for building trust between the developed and developing world,” trust that U.N. officials hope could eventually pave the way to a comprehensive climate deal.
Last year’s climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, was supposed to have produced that deal _ a global pact under which richer nations, and possibly some poorer ones, would be required to rein in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emitted by industry, vehicles and agriculture.
That agreement would have succeeded the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which mandated modest emissions reductions by developed nations that expire in 2012. Alone in the industrial world, the U.S. rejected Kyoto, complaining that emerging economies, such as China and India, should also have taken on obligations.
In a sign of the sensitivity of even voluntary pledges, the U.S. and China are squabbling in Cancun over an effort to “anchor” them in a fresh U.N. document. The Chinese want separate listings to maintain a distinction between developing and developed countries, and the Americans want a single integrated list.
The green fund would help developing nations buy advanced clean-energy technology to reduce their own emissions, and to adapt to climate change, by building seawalls against rising seas, for example, and upgrading farming practices to compensate for shifting rain patterns.
Behind closed doors, the Cancun debate zeroed in on the size and sources of the fund.
Developing nations view such finance not as aid but as compensation for the looming damage from two centuries of northern industrial emissions. They consider inadequate the goal set in the Copenhagen Accord for the fund, of $100 billion a year by 2020, and propose instead that richer countries commit 1.5 percent of their annual gross domestic product _ today roughly $600 billion a year.
Developed nations have resisted such ambitious targets, and also objected to language indicating most of the fund’s money should come from direct government contributions.
One of the developing world’s own leaders, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, defended the north’s stand on that point.
In view of the economic crisis, “it is not feasible for most of that money to come through the (government) budgetary process at the moment,” Zenawi said in the Ban-led discussion.
In its final report last month, the group said the greatest contributions should come from private investment and from “carbon pricing,” either a direct tax broadly on emissions tonnage from power plants and other industrial sources or a system of auctioning off emissions allowances that could be traded among industrial emitters.
Either route would make it economical for enterprises to minimize emissions, and would produce revenue. Zenawi said his group recommends that at least 90 percent of such revenues flow to domestic budgets and the remainder to the global fund.
The United States has been a major holdout against such carbon pricing plans, however, and the impending Republican takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives all but guarantees none will be enacted in the U.S. for at least two years.
The U.N. advisers also see possible revenue sources in a tax or trading system for fuel emissions of international airliners and merchant ships, or a fee on air tickets, with a potential for $10 billion a year. They also suggested a possible levy on foreign-exchange transactions, and removal of government subsidies of fossil fuels, with the money redirected to a climate fund. They estimated each of those might also produce $10 billion annually.
By Mangosuthu Buthelezi
Memories of a long brotherhood tempered in common struggle
- House budget bargain faces Senate filibuster; Republicans line up to oppose
- Broncos-Chargers game ends with several stabbings
- Obama's Afghanistan experts stumped on U.S. death toll, war costs during hearing
- NAPOLITANO: A conspiracy so vast
- Kim Jong-un consolidating power or losing grip on North Korea's military
- Inside China: Ukraine gets nuclear umbrella
- Echoes of Cold War in Ukraine as Russia tries to rein in former Soviet satellites
- PRUDEN: The last living witnesses; they wore the yellow star and remember the Nazi terror
- American missing in Iran was CIA operative who went rogue - Washington Times#pagebreak#pagebreak
- Medicare pays full price for half-empty vials of medicine
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Consummate traveler Todd DeFeo explores the unique stories that make destinations worth going to.
Covering the world of soccer, including the World Cup, Major League Soccer, D.C. United and the English Premier League and other interesting sporting events.
Born in 1930 in rural Missouri, Charles Vandegriffe, Sr., brings his time and place to the Communities.
Columns from Voices around the World talking about the events, people, politics and social issues that concern us wherever, and whoever, we are.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow