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Climate Change

US Taking Hard-Nosed Stance at Cancun

Having tried the softer approach last year, and failed to get an agreement at Copenhagen, this year, the US appears to be going for an all or nothing approach.

In a briefing with journalists, Todd Stern, the chief climate envoy for the US, said, “We’re either going to see progress across the range of issues or we’re not going to see much progress. We’re not going to race forward on three issues and a take a first step on other important ones. We’re going to have to get them all moving at a similar pace.”

Here’s the problem. The developing nations (including China and India) want three financial commitments from the developed nations: for help against deforestation, with (renewable energy) technology sharing and in adapting to the results of climate change.

The US is saying, only in return for these two concessions:

According the UK Guardian the US criteria is that developing nations commit to emissions cuts, and to the establishment of a verifiable system of accounting for these cuts. If these features were included in a treaty, the United States would agree to the three provisions that are important to emerging economies.

China and India are being directly targeted by this negotiating posture. President Obama offered technology transfer arrangements with both last year, prior to Copenhagen, and got results from both in movement towards an agreement at Copenhagen.

After the Obama visit and agreement on technology transfer, India agreed to 20% cuts, and China agreed to reduce greenhouse gases by 40% in advance of Copenhagen. China has since enacted cap and trade, forced utilities to buy renewable energy, revised the grid to make it renewable-friendly and turned itself into the world’s largest clean energy investment magnet, in the process bypassing the US in clean tech development. It is more than meeting its side of the bargain.

But China had previously balked at the “verifiable” aspect of cuts. That the US is holding out for this suggests that that might now be within reach.

Indeed, Michael Levi is noting that the two Indian proposals, obtained by the Associated Press, address the sticky subjects of monitoring emissions cuts and sharing environmentally friendly technologies with poor and developing nations.

“India is proposing a framework for accountability by which nations do their own reporting to U.N. climate authorities, which would then review and assess the reports. There would be no punishments for violations, suggesting targets would be voluntary rather than legally binding, but includes developing nations in the rubric of commitments.

“Industrialized countries would detail their emissions, progress and future plans in reaching emissions targets as well as how much funding they have contributed for poor nations. Developing countries would offer similar details on their emissions and targets.”

Image: ClimateProgress
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writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today and Renewable Energy World.  She has also been published at Wind Energy Update, Solar Plaza, Earthtechling PV-Insider , and GreenProphet, Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.


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