From: Anna da Costa, Worldwatch Institute, More from this Affiliate
Published February 2, 2010 04:57 PM

As Climate Talks Stumble, U.N. Process in Question

A key deadline for countries to submit emission reduction goals to the United Nations as part of the recently negotiated Copenhagen Accord passed last Sunday. The U.N. received commitments from 55 nations, but 139 countries remain unsupportive of the political statement, leading the international body to push back the commitment deadline indefinitely.

Since the high-level climate change summit in Copenhagen concluded in December, global climate talks have been in a state of confusion. Two parallel tracks are already under way - one that includes the United States and one that omits this significant world emitter. The Copenhagen Accord, some say, threatens to introduce a third procedural track, complicating the already tense deliberations.

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The Accord, a non-binding political statement introduced at the 11th hour of the Copenhagen summit, has been praised by some for garnering stronger commitments from major developing nations, which could in turn deliver a binding global climate treaty. Yet its formulation has also threatened to destabilize the nearly 20-year old process developed under the U.N.'s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the leading international body for climate change negotiations.

The United States, Brazil, South Africa, India and China formulated the Accord with the understanding that the text would later be adopted by all 194 nations. But many participants considered this outcome to be undemocratic and a departure from a U.N. process meant to offer equal voice to every nation.

Many had hoped that the Copenhagen conference would deliver a legally binding international treaty on climate change, or at least provide direction on many of the core components under negotiation. But the Accord itself contains little of these details and provides instead for countries to set their own emission reduction targets unilaterally.

Among other elements, it states that 2 degrees centigrade is the target above which global temperatures must not rise; it proposes the mobilization of $30 billion by 2012 and $100 billion by 2020 for developing countries to address climate change; and it calls on developed and developing countries to submit their national actions on climate change to the U.N. by January 31, a deadline that has now been postponed "indefinitely."

Article continues: http://www.worldwatch.org/node/6370

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