Divided climate talks end with deal

Climate talks near polit

Chinese Premier 248 88 AP (photo credit: )
Chinese Premier 248 88 AP
(photo credit: )
The historic UN climate talks ended in Copenhagen on Saturday after a 31-hour negotiating marathon, with delegates accepting a US-brokered compromise that gives billions in climate aid to poor nations but does not require the world's major polluters to make deeper cuts in their greenhouse gas emissions. Disputes between rich and poor countries and between the world's biggest carbon polluters - China and America - dominated the two-week conference. Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets and staged demonstrations to demand action to cool an overheating planet. US President Barack Obama met twice with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao - once privately and once with other leaders - in hopes of sweeping aside some of the disputes that had blocked progress. Obama argued that some kind of deal was better than none. If the world waited to reach a binding agreement, "then we wouldn't make any progress," he said, warning that could have produced "such frustration and cynicism that rather than taking one step forward, we ended up taking two steps back." Yet in the end, nearly all 193 nations at the UN conference agreed to Obama's solution, which points toward deeper emissions cuts for rich nations but without mandatory targets that would draw sanctions for nonfulfillment. His successful 11th-hour bargaining on Friday with China, India, Brazil and South Africa - the world's key developing nations - sets the stage for future cooperation between developed and developing countries. The resulting Copenhagen Accord promises that rich nations will provide $30 billion in emergency climate aid to poor nations in the next three years, and set a goal of channeling $100b. a year to them by 2020. That aid aims to help nations build seawalls, cope with unusual droughts and storms, and deal with other impacts from climate change, as well as to develop clean energy sources and reduce their own emissions. The accord includes a method for verifying each country's reductions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases - a key demand by Washington, because China has resisted international efforts to monitor its voluntary actions. None of the members of the Israeli governmental delegation was willing to comment on the US-brokered accord on Saturday night. However, based on previous comments and the stated intentions of the delegation, the accord meets Jerusalem's requirements. There was never any expectation on the delegation's part going into the negotiations that Israel would be held to specific emissions reductions goals, but a declaration of intentions was considered a good step forward. Israel made that declaration, a 20 percent reduction in the growth of future emissions but not a reduction to previous levels of emissions, and has been pushing for a transparent, verifiable inspection process, which tallies with Obama's agreement. While Israel will not be a direct beneficiary of the billions being transferred to developed countries, if it turns itself into a technology transfer center for mitigation and adaptation technologies, based on its proven expertise in water and other clean technologies, it could channel some of those funds its way. The NGO and Knesset delegation, however, have complained that the 20% goal is not enough. Moreover, lack of serious measures to combat global warming is ultimately detrimental to Israel. As a semi-arid country, climate change has already brought about less rainfall and could increase that shortage as well as desertification. Furthermore, if sea levels rise, the coast of Israel could be in some jeopardy.