Mex­ico talks hold key to clos­ing gap on fight­ing cli­mate change

Shanghai Daily - - TOP NEWS -

WORLD gov­ern­ments yes­ter­day be­gan an­other at­tempt to over­come the gap be­tween rich and poor na­tions on fight­ing global warm­ing, with ev­i­dence mount­ing that the Earth’s cli­mate is al­ready chang­ing in ways that will af­fect both sides of the wealth di­vide.

Dur­ing two weeks of talks, the 193-na­tion United Na­tions con­fer­ence hopes to con­clude agree­ments that will clear the way to mo­bi­lize bil­lions of dol­lars for de­vel­op­ing coun­tries and give them green tech­nol­ogy to help them shift from fos­sil fu­els af­fect­ing cli­mate change.

After a dis­ap­point­ing sum­mit last year in Copen­hagen, no hope re­mains of reach­ing an over­ar­ch­ing deal this year set­ting le­gal lim­its on how much ma­jor coun­tries would be al­lowed to pol­lute. Such an ac­cord was meant to de­scribe a path to­ward slash­ing green­house gas emis­sions by mid- cen­tury, when scientists say they should be half of to­day’s lev­els.

Eighty-five coun­tries have made spe­cific pledges to re­duce emis­sions or con­strain growth, but those prom­ises amount to far less than re­quired to keep tem­per­a­tures from ris­ing to po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous lev­els.

The re­crim­i­na­tions that fol­lowed the Dan­ish sum­mit have raised ques­tions over whether the un­wieldy UN ne­go­ti­a­tions, which re­quire at least tacit agree­ment from ev­ery na­tion, can ever work. Adopt­ing scaled back am­bi­tions for Can­cun, if successful, could restore con­fi­dence in the process.

“As is the case with any large puz­zle with over 1,000 pieces and over 190 play­ers, one needs to start with the edges and work in­wards,” Jen­nifer Mor­gan, of World Re­sources In­sti­tute, said.

Chris­tiana Figueres, the top UN cli­mate of­fi­cial, said world cap­i­tals are aware of both a grow­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal and po­lit­i­cal ur­gency.

“Gov­ern­ments need to prove that the in­ter­gov­ern­men­tal process can de­liver,” she said. “They know that they can do it. They know that they need to com­pro­mise.”

About 15,000 ne­go­tia­tors, en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivists, busi­ness­men and jour­nal­ists are con­ven­ing at a re­sort com­plex un­der elab­o­rate se­cu­rity pre­cau­tions, in­clud­ing naval war­ships a few hun­dred me­ters offshore in the Gulf of Mex­ico.

While del­e­gates hag­gle over the word­ing, tim­ing and dol­lar fig­ures in­volved in any agree­ment, scientists and po­lit­i­cal ac­tivists at the con­fer­ence will be of­fer­ing the lat­est in­di­ca­tions of the planet’s warm­ing. Some 250 pre­sen­ta­tions are planned on the side­lines.

Me­te­o­rol­o­gists are likely to re­port that 2010 will end up tied for the hottest year since records be­gan 131 years ago.

The UN sci­en­tific body that won the 2007 No­bel Peace Prize for its cli­mate change re­port, which called global warm­ing “un­equiv­o­cal,” is ex­pected to tell the con­fer­ence its warn­ings of po­ten­tial dis­as­ters are out of date.

Agronomists are due to re­port on shift­ing weather pat­terns that are desta­bi­liz­ing the world’s food sup­ply and ac­cess to clean water.

As of­ten dur­ing the three­year process, at­ten­tion will fo­cus on the United States and China, na­tions rep­re­sent­ing the in­dus­tri­al­ized and de­vel­op­ing world.

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