U.N. Climate Summit Underscores Perennial Differences on Climate Change | Henry Auer

Oct 6th, 2014 | By | Category: General

The United Nations convened a Climate Summit on September 23, 2014 as a springboard for action on addressing global warming. About 120 national leaders attended, as well as leaders in business, government and action groups. Notable by their absence were the leaders from China and India, two of the nations among developing countries with the highest annual rates of emission of greenhouse gases (primarily carbon dioxide (CO2)) and/or the highest rates of growth in those emissions from year to year.

Negotiations toward a new international climate treaty to stabilize the world’s average temperature are about to begin under the U. N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (the Convention). Work on the treaty will proceed for next 14 months, with the goal of reaching agreement by December 2015. The new treaty is considered a follow-on compact to succeed the Kyoto Protocol (Kyoto), negotiated in 1997.

Kyoto adopted the same wording as appears in the Convention, namely that nations of the world address climate change “on the basis of equity and in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities”. This phrasing reflects the concerns that “the developed countr[ies] should take the lead in combating climate change” and that the “specific needs and special circumstances of developing countr[ies]…should be given full consideration”.

As a result, the final Kyoto treaty applied only to developed (i.e., already industrialized) countries such as the U. S., those of Western Europe, Japan and Australia. Under Kyoto, each of these countries was to reduce its emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) by specified amounts (typically a few percent) by 2012 from the levels of 1990. It attracted enough signatories to become enforceable by 2005, and it expired in 2012.

Although President Clinton supported Kyoto, the U. S. rejected it so that it was not bound by its terms. Arguments against approval included the distinction in the treaty between developed and developing countries mentioned above, which, it was argued, would put the U. S. at a disadvantage in international commerce.

For more on this story, visit: Global Warming Blog by Henry Auer: U.N. Climate Summit Underscores Perennial Differences on Climate Change.

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