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Published March 04, 2011, 11:24 AM

No consensus at climate talks

TOKYO — Climate negotiators from 26 countries and international organizations remained divided after a two-day informal meeting in Tokyo through Friday over the expected outcome of the next U.N. climate conference later this year in South Africa, a Japanese official said.

TOKYO — Climate negotiators from 26 countries and international organizations remained divided after a two-day informal meeting in Tokyo through Friday over the expected outcome of the next U.N. climate conference later this year in South Africa, a Japanese official said.

Working-level participants from countries including major greenhouse gas emitters the United States and China did not reach a consensus on whether countries should aim to agree on a new legal framework to tackle global warming beyond 2012, the official said.

Japan and other developed countries were mainly of the view that the climate talks in Durban in November and December should focus on achieving progress on the implementation of past accords in such areas as financial and technical aid for developing nations grappling with the adverse impact of climate change.

But several developing countries called for the meeting in South Africa to reach agreement on the desirable legal framework to combat global warming after the current commitment period for developed countries to slash heat-trapping gases under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol expires at the end of 2012, according to the official.

A summary issued by Japan and Brazil, which jointly chaired the Tokyo talks, said that participants also discussed “the way to facilitate the implementation of the (emissions-cut) pledges and to enhance the level of ambition” on mitigating the adverse effects of climate change.

Both developed and developing countries have unveiled their goals for emissions reductions or actions to curb global warming, but scientists say their collective efforts will not be enough to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, was among the participants at the informal meeting in Tokyo.

Later in the day, Jurgen Lefevere, one of the European Union’s principal climate change negotiators, told a press conference that the regional bloc expects the Durban meeting to be “more than just implementation.”

He said Brussels expects the next U.N. climate meeting will achieve progress on “the ambition of the actions we are taking” and on “the legal form in which we actually package the various actions that we are taking at the international level.”

Lefevere admitted that many people doubt whether nations will be able to strike a major accord in Durban prior to the scheduled change of leadership in several major countries in 2012 and stressed the need to maintain focus on a legally binding agreement and take next steps toward that goal.

The EU negotiator said even if no agreement is reached before the end of 2012, 27 European nations will continue to make emissions reduction efforts in accordance with their own legislation.

“The 1st of January 2013 is not going to be the end of the world,” Lefevere said. “I think what we’ll try to do with the European Union is to make sure that it’s as perfect as we can get.”

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