Climate Talks End With Agreement and Bewilderment

Annual United Nations climate change negotiations concluded in Doha over the weekend with an agreement to extend the "increasingly ineffective" Kyoto Protocol a few years, while pushing off a more ambitious replacement agreement.
December 10, 2012, 10am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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John M. Broder reports on the conclusion of this year’s meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Participants from more than 190 countries agreed to extend the "increasingly ineffective" Kyoto Protocol, which does not cover several of the world's top contributers to global warming. And although there was widespread agreement on "the widening gap between what countries have promised to do to reduce emissions and the growing concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere," Broder adds that, "the group left for future years any plan for addressing the mismatch between goals and reality, merely stating an intention to 'identify and explore in 2013 options for a range of actions to close the pre-2020 ambition gap.'”

Representatives from the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change were deeply troubled by the result. "Kieren Keke, foreign minister of the Pacific nation of Nauru and chairman of the Alliance of Small Island States, called the package adopted Saturday 'deeply deficient.'”

“This is not where we wanted to be at the end of the meeting, I assure you,” he told the delegates. “It certainly isn’t where we need to be in order to prevent islands from going under and other unimaginable impacts. It has become abundantly clear that unless the work is supported by world leaders, particularly those representing the countries most responsible for the crisis, we will continue to fall short year after year.”

Environmentalists, meanwhile, chastised the timeline for the development of a more ambitious treaty to replace Kyoto, writes Christopher F. Schuetze. "Though the new, tougher and more inclusive treaty will be under negotiation until 2015, environmentalists warn that any deal that goes into effect in 2020 comes too late."

“'We can’t wait until the 2020s to start cutting emissions. We are going to have to do it this decade,' said Samantha Smith, who heads the Global Climate and Energy Initiative of the World Wildlife Fund, in a telephone interview from Doha."

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Published on Saturday, December 8, 2012 in The New York Times
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