- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 12, 2009

COPENHAGEN | Wealthy nations would commit to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the next decade, and the world should strive to nearly eliminate them - or at least cut them in half - by 2050 under a draft agreement circulated Friday at the U.N. climate talks.

The draft pulled together the main elements of a global pact that 192 nations have been negotiating for two years, but left numbers on financing and cutting greenhouse gas emissions - perhaps the most contentious bargaining issues - for world leaders to hammer out next week.

The draft accord said all countries together should reduce emissions by 50 percent to 95 percent by 2050, and rich countries should cut emissions by 25 percent to 40 percent by 2020, in both cases using 1990 as the baseline year.

It was meant to focus attention on the broad goals the world must achieve to avoid irreversible change in climate that scientists say could bring many species to extinction and cause upheavals in the human environment in many parts of the Earth.

“It’s time to begin to focus on the big picture,” said Yvo de Boer, the top U.N. climate official. “The serious discussion on finance and targets has begun.”

In unusually blunt language, meanwhile, China’s vice foreign minister said the chief U.S. negotiator at the talks either “lacks common sense” or was “extremely irresponsible” for saying that no U.S. climate funding should be going to China. The world’s two biggest greenhouse gas polluters have been exchanging barbs this week about the sincerity of their pledges to fight climate change.

In his blunt remarks, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei said he was “shocked” by U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern’s comments that Beijing shouldn’t expect any U.S. climate aid money.

So far, pledges from the industrial countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions have amounted to far less than the minimum. EU leaders on Friday reiterated their pledge to increase their emissions cuts to 30 percent from 20 percent by 2020, but only if other wealthy nations, including the United States and Canada, make comparable commitments.

The six-page draft document distilled a much-disputed 180-page negotiating text, laying out the obligations of industrial and developing countries in curbing the growth of greenhouse gases that many believe are responsible for global warming.

News of the document came as the EU leaders agreed in Brussels to commit $3.6 billion a year until 2012 to a short-term fund to help poor countries cope with climate change. Most of the money came from Britain, France and Germany. Many cash-strapped former East bloc countries balked at donating but eventually all gave at least a token amount to preserve the 27-nation bloc’s unity.

The draft agreement is less specific than other proposals and attempts to bridge the divide between rich and poor countries. It leaves much to be decided by the 110 heads of state, including President Obama, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and most of Europe’s top leaders, who are due to arrive in the Danish capital in one week for a landmark summit.

In downtown Copenhagen, police detained 75 people in the first street protests linked to the conference.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide