Little Progress in Tianjin Climate Talks
The New York Times gives United Nations climate negotiations this year a reality check:
There is no chance of completing a binding global treaty to reduce emissions of climate-altering gases, few if any heads of state are planning to attend, and there are no major new initiatives on the agenda. Copenhagen was crippled by an excess of expectation. Cancún is suffering from the opposite.
Not only that, but talks in Tianjin, China this week may actually be moving backward. The Times reports that a number of issues that negotiators thought they’d settled in Copenhagen last year are being looked at again.
Delegates in Tianjin, China, at the last formal meeting before the Cancún conference opens Nov. 29, are hung up over the same issues that caused the collapse of the Copenhagen meeting. Even some of the baby steps in the weak agreement that emerged from last year’s meeting, a slender document known as the Copenhagen Accord, have been reopened, to the dismay of officials who thought they had been settled.
Agreement on critical issues like short-term financial aid for vulnerable countries and monitoring and reporting of emissions by major economies appears even farther away than it was at the end of the Copenhagen meeting.
While the news doesn’t come as a surprise to people closely following the debate, it’s still frustrating. Many scientists say it is essential to reach a binding agreement to reduce world greenhouse gas emissions enough to avoid catastrophic climate change.
Environmentalists had hoped that negotiations in Tianjin and Cancun would lay the groundwork for more significant action later. But it appears that may not even be possible.