June 19, 2013
Coalition growing for new deal on greenhouse gas cuts
Rich and poor nations at climate change talks are lining up behind an EU plan for achieving a global pact on cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 2015, under pressure to reach some kind of a deal before Friday's planned end to the UN meeting.
Analysts expect at least a political agreement to be reached when the two weeks of talks wind up, with countries promising to start deliberations on a new regime of binding cuts in the gases blamed for global warming and environmental devastation.
Anything less would qualify the United Nations negotiations in the South African city of Durban as a disaster, they say.
The European Union plan envisages a new deal reached by 2015, and put into effect by 2020, imposing binding cuts on the world's biggest emitters of the heat-trapping gases.
In Durban the two issues for the negotiators from nearly 200 countries are finding a way of updating the Kyoto Protocol, the only global pact that enforces carbon cuts, and raising funding needed to help poor countries tackle climate change.
Key to any greenhouse gas deal will be China, the United States, India and Brazil - the world's largest emitters which are not bound by the cuts regime in the Kyoto Protocol.
"We are seeing convergence and that's what we need to achieve the outcome that we want to have," Brazil's chief negotiator, Luiz Alberto Figueiredo, told a news briefing on Thursday.
Three UN reports released in the last month show time is running out to achieve change. They show a warming planet will amplify droughts and floods, increase crop failures and raise sea levels to the point where several island states are threatened with extinction.
South African President Jacob Zuma has said Durban will be a failure if a Green Climate Fund, designed to help poor nations tackle global warming and nudge them towards a new global effort to fight climate change, is not put into force.
A group of 48 of the least developed countries has said it backs the European plan for a firm timetable, joining African nations and 43 small island states. Japan has said it shares "common ground" with Europe while Canada and several other developed countries have shown their support.
The EU, Japan and others have said that any deal that does not include all major players would not nearly be enough to head off a global problem.
The United States has said it will make its emissions cuts binding under an international agreement only if China and other developing countries that are big polluters back their commitments with equal legal force.
If the discussions hold to form, envoys will extend discussions and release their decisions on Saturday.
"These negotiations are running around in circles. If we don't act now, some of us will die," said Karl Hood, Grenada's minister of foreign affairs and chairman of the 43-member Alliance of Small Island States.