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UN climate change talks begin, opinion splits

The Local · 15 May 2012, 07:14

Published: 15 May 2012 07:14 GMT+02:00

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As UN climate chief Christiana Figueres urged all states to turn political pledges into concrete action to save the planet, observers and developing states insisted the rich world should commit to tougher reduction goals.

Figueres cited new research which predicted Earth's temperature rising by as much as five degrees Celsius, instead of the 2 degrees estimate being reckoned with.

"We still have a gap remaining between intent and effort," Figueres told the press, as experts and diplomats from some 170 countries met to start laying the groundwork for a new global warming pact to be finalised by 2015.

These are the first formal talks since UN member states agreed in Durban, South Africa, last December to bring all major greenhouse-gas emitting countries under a single legal roof from 2020.

Officials started Monday the process of drawing up amendments to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change for adoption at the next UN climate conference in Doha in November and December.

There has been much debate about how much proportional responsiblity the rich and poor world should bear for curbing greenhouse gases.

"All countries have a responsibility to do their fair share, particularly those with the largest historical emissions," the Alliance of Small Island States said in a statement.

A grouping of least developed countries accused developed nations of "trying to renegotiate pledges and decisions made," instead of delivering on financial promises made to help curb climate change in the developing world.

And environmental body Greenpeace International urged the European Union to boost its commitment to reduce Earth-warming gas emissions by 20 percent.

But EU official Christian Pilgaard Zinglersen told a press conference that he did not think “the EU would change its stand" on the emissions target in Bonn.

Figueres conceded the political process was "incredibly challenging."

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"We need to temper our excitement with realism," she told a press conference broadcast live on the Internet, but added a solution was "technically attainable and economically feasible."


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

16:44 May 15, 2012 by luckylongshot
This all seems like a black comedy. We have a dominant oil industry trying to appear as if they care about the environment while ruthlessly exploiting their control of oil and suppressing all emerging alternative technolgies apart from nuclear. This then leads to high carbon emmissions becoming a serious threat to life on the planet and this ends up as a political circus where a group of oil industry owned politicians procrastinate and nothing happens.

What is needed to break this cycle is a new technology that is able to avoid being bought and shelved by the oil companies and offers energy at a fraction the cost of oil and is clean and green. It seems inevitable that this will come in time and until then it is hard to imagine much being done to seriously curb pollution. We just have to hope it emerges before the earth reaches a tipping point.
17:02 May 15, 2012 by Beachrider
The Kyoto accords were not signed by all nations. Some signatories have backed off from the original wording, as well. Assigning monetary penalties for CO2 emissions is considered obtuse by several key governments.

Consensus was not attained for Kyoto. A broader approach to greenhouse gasses has evolved in the last decade. THAT response has more scientific information.

Warming isn't substantially-about manmade CO2, at all. CH4 is DRAMATICALLY more important. Talking-past the CH4 issue isn't gaining acceptance anywhere.
17:30 May 15, 2012 by McM
Firstly I would point out that I have no doubt that our climate is changing.

It always has . Whether this ongoing environmental activity can be turned into an opportunist financial industry for human self purging as cheap religious substitute and quick profit seems to be now beyond any doubt.

 Prior to the recent vilification of one of our base elements, CO2 ,and the human industrial exploitation of Earth, this planet has been far hotter for 80 % of its 4.5 billion year history. In fact the interglacial periods have always been far hotter producing green house environments far more severe than our current temperature range can manage. We are just coming out of a glacial period so it is quite normal to see things warming up. The  geologists have found that the planet has warmed and cooled during all time scales. How much of the warming can be explained by human activity is a worthy question to address but turning it into a scam is a tad shoddy. 98% of all species that have ever evolved and existed on this planet are now extinct so get used to it. The planet has a quite ruthless approach to its life support functions and many species have managed to cause their own extinction by acting counter to the planets climate change antics. Methane may again rule the planet without any assistance from humans.

The question is whether our human egos can accept that we are not the only major climate change driver at work. And, is our dust stirring on the surface anywhere near as relevant as long term forces . From what I have researched I suspect we would have to stop the sun radiating, the tectonic plates from moving and the Solar system from moving through its orbit around our galaxy to halt any major climate change. It is the norm. Ice sheets have been present for only 20% of our planetary existence so melting would seem quite natural. Our whole human history has existed in a very short period of earth history and our compatibility from caveman to now is nothing but a cosmic fluke. It may well be a noble cause to clean up how we interact with our home planet. But the environmental religious fanatics and schisms that are now turning it into a cash grab indoctrination of media and emotional circus should be put aside as soon as possible so that the relative questions can be 

addressed free from this silly popularist waffle. Our planets history and importantly , its future is written in its surface for all to read. Pretending shock horror at every indicator that changes our comfort zone may seem exciting but it is not that relevant in the long term.
17:33 May 15, 2012 by MeinSchwanz
the only black comedy here is the belief that CO2 emissions are significantly effecting the temperature. More Government greed, Power and Control are at stake.

I just have to hope that one day all the Chicken Little's will open their eyes, or have time open their eyes for them. Its the sun, you greedy little Marxist.
19:08 May 15, 2012 by Beachrider
@Mein Too much foulness to agree with you.

@McM Controlling carbon-loading, in general, is laudable. The problem comes from how-it-is-done. Kyoto just targets the wrong stuff.
20:26 May 15, 2012 by MeinSchwanz

'@Mein Too much foulness to agree with you. '

03:16 May 16, 2012 by anaverageguy
I own a tee shirt that says it pretty plainly:

"It's The Sun Stupid"

No statistical temp rise in over a decade in the face of rising CO2. How is that possible? Poor countries want pre-emptive relief for the results of a computer model? I get emails from Nigeria ALL the time that make more sense.
09:15 May 16, 2012 by catjones
I'm always fascinated by the nitwits who claim that technological conspiracies prevent breakthroughs in energy, fuel mileage, cures for cancer, space travel, et.al. despite the worldwide billions spent on R&D.
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