UK: Global deal on climate change at risk

Maideline Sanchez

From the Associated Press

LONDON – Two British Cabinet ministers said Tuesday that attempts to broker a new global pact on climate change by the end of the year are at risk of failing.

Hopes for an agreement being reached at a United Nations summit in December “hang in the balance,” undermined by a climate of suspicion between rich and poor countries, said Foreign Secretary David Miliband, speaking at a press conference with his brother, Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband.

Nations will meet in Copenhagen, Denmark to attempt to strike a pact to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, which bound 37 industrial countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 5.2 percent of 1990 levels by 2012.

But David Miliband told reporters in London that the complexity of negotiations and disputes between industrialized and developing nations over cuts to emissions threaten to scupper a deal.

“The deal the world needs in Copenhagen is now in the balance,” he said. “There’s a real danger the talks scheduled for December will not reach a positive outcome, and an equal danger in the run-up to Copenhagen that people don’t wake up to the danger of failure until it’s too late.”

The Kyoto accord placed no obligations on developing countries, but now industrialized nations want countries including India and China — seen by many as the world’s largest polluter — to agree to stall, and eventually cut, their emissions.

David Miliband is due to travel this week to France, the Netherlands, Poland and Denmark to meet fellow foreign ministers and discuss how European nations can try to influence reluctant nations.

EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said Tuesday in Brussels that a decision by Japan‘s incoming prime minister to pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020 would encourage those seeking a Copenhagen pact.

The Democratic Party of Japan, which won last month’s national elections, promised during the campaign to reduce the country’s emissions 25 percent from 1990 levels. The EU has promised to cut its emissions by 20 percent by 2020, but is willing to cut up to 30 percent if other rich countries follow suit.

Ed Miliband said Japan’s action was welcome, and called for more “political boldness” ahead of the summit.

“It feels to me that many of the jigsaw pieces are in place for a deal, and we must help put them together,” he said.

Britain has pledged to reduce carbon emissions by 34 percent of 1990 levels by 2020, higher than the EU target.

The United States, which did not sign the Kyoto Protocol, agreed with nearly 200 other nations at a conference in Bali in December to negotiate a new agreement by the end of 2009.