Hopes dimmed for Cancun climate talks

Oct. 11, 2010 at 2:16 PM
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TIANJIN, China, Oct. 11 (UPI) -- Climate change negotiations in Tianjin, China ended Saturday with little progress and dim prospects for a concrete outcome at the Cancun, Mexico, summit beginning late November.

Tianjin was the fourth round of climate talks since last December's climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, which failed to reach an agreement that included legally binding emissions.

Negotiators in Tianjin still couldn't agree on how to allocate the $30 billion "fast start fund" pledged by wealthy countries in Copenhagen to help the developing world respond to climate change.

The Tianjin negotiations were also overshadowed by a continued rift between the United States and China over the issue of emissions. The United States accused China of undermining the Copenhagen Accord and China said that no deal would be possible until the United States agrees to more ambitious emission reduction targets.

China, the world's top emitter of greenhouse gases, announced last year plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions per unit of gross domestic product by 40 percent to 45 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels.

Yet U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres expressed optimism for Cancun.

"This week has got us closer to a structured set of decisions that can be agreed in Cancun. Governments addressed what is do-able in Cancun and what may have to be left to later," she said at a news conference after the six-day Tianjin meeting. "I understand there is disappointment with the multilateral process but this issue is not easy."

In the past, India had closely coordinated its stance on most issues with China. But analysts say that India, in this round of talks, failed to take a leading role in negotiations, a significant contrast from the Copenhagen summit in which it was a key player, along with the United States, China and Brazil.

"The talks have looked like a show going on between China and the U.S., with everyone else hiding behind the drama," Yang Ailun, Greenpeace China's head of climate and energy told The Hindu.

However, ministers from the BASIC group of developing countries -- Brazil, South Africa, India and China -- met Monday to evaluate the progress of the Tianjin talks.

They want to ensure that any climate agreement includes provisions that would restrict any attempts by developed nations to impose trade penalties on carbon emitters.

In advance of that meeting, Indian Minister of Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh on Sunday said that "there is no light at the end of the tunnel" and the prospect of a binding deal being reached in Cancun was out of the question, The Hindu reports.

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