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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 3rd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

THE REAL PROBLEM IS THAT WITHOUT A US INPUT – THE POZNAN MEETING IN DECEMBER 2008 IS JUST A WASTE OF TIME AND PUBLIC FUNDS. WE REPORTED THAT THE US PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE TO THE UN FOR THE PRESENT WASHINGTON ADMINISTRATION, AMBASSADOR ZALMAY KHALILZAD, TOLD US THAT HE WILL WORK WITH THE TRANSITION REPRESENTATIVES FOR THE INCOMING PRESIDENT THAT WILL BE ELECTED IN NOVEMBER, BUT WILL IT BE POSSIBLE WITH THIS HYBRID DELEGATION TO ACTUALLY SAVE THE PACE OF THE CLIMATE CHANGE NEGOTIATIONS THAT HAVE A SELF IMPOSED TIMETABLE ON THE ROAD TO COPENHAGEN? WHAT GOES ON THIS WEEK IN BANGKOK IS JUST THE TEA TIME ON THE WAY TO POZNAN – AND WE SEE ALREADY THAT THE WAY IS NOTHING BUT A TRACK IN THIN AIR.

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP), April 3, 2008, reproted by USA Today — The U.S. government insists it is deeply engaged in talks started this week on the world’s next climate pact, but other negotiators are already looking ahead to the next administration — and wondering what to expect.


Nations have less than two years to piece together a deal that scientists say is needed to cut greenhouse gas emissions and stop temperatures from rising so high they trigger disaster.

The high-stakes negotiations that began Monday in Thailand, however, are complicated by the coming U.S. presidential election.

Crucial details — such as how much Washington is willing to cut U.S. emissions — cannot be fully discussed until a new president takes office next year, slowing action on a final deal, some negotiators say. And it is far from certain what a new administration’s negotiating stance will be.

“The nature of the U.S. commitment … is unclear, and I suspect we’re not going to get a clear signal from the U.S. until after the next election,” said Ian Fry, a representative for the island nation of Tuvalu, which faces danger from rising sea-levels caused by global warming.

The world’s nations agreed last year at a conference in Bali to conclude a pact by December 2009. The agreement would succeed the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol warming agreement, which expires in 2012.

U.S. President George W. Bush has rejected the 1997 Kyoto pact, arguing it would hurt the American economy and was unfair because developing countries were not required to cut emissions. The agreement committed 37 wealthy nations to cut emissions to an average of 5% below 1990 levels by 2012.
Harlan Watson, the head of the U.S. delegation in Bangkok, insisted the administration was fully involved in the negotiations for the new pact.

Congress and leading U.S. presidential candidates have shown willingness to cap emissions. But Watson said the U.S. still wants commitments from major developing nations, no matter who is in the White House.

So far at Bangkok, however, he has limited his public statements to procedural issues.

“At this point in the process, there’s no enthusiasm for talking” about specific targets, Watson said.

“We don’t want to do anything that’s going to cut off the next administration’s options,” he said later.

U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer acknowledged that one of the toughest parts of the haggling ahead — on how much industrialized countries will cut emissions — would best be discussed with a new U.S. administration.
The goal of the talks will be a complex document including emissions reduction commitments by industrialized countries; measures by developing countries; and financing and technology transfer to help them control emissions and adapt to the effects of rising temperatures.

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