October 6, 2010

US And China Still Working Out Climate Treaty

The U.S. said on Wednesday that talks in China to try and set the foundations for a global climate change treaty have failed to make significant progress so far.

Chief U.S. negotiator Jonathan Pershing said time was running out to reach an agreement, which would then be submitted to the U.N. climate summit in Cancun, Mexico, for approval next month.

"There is less agreement than one might have hoped at this stage," Pershing told a small group of reporters nearly halfway through the six days of talks in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin.

"It's going to require a lot of work to get to some significant outcome by the end of this week, which would lead us into a significant outcome in Cancun."

Delegates from over 170 countries are meeting in Tianjin in an effort to end the gridlock that has plagued U.N. climate negotiations since world leaders failed to find an agreement in Copenhangen last year.

The goal of the U.N. process is to secure a post-2012 treaty aimed at limiting global warming and helping countries cope with the potentially devastating environmental impacts of climate change.

This treaty could find its way to be finalized during the U.N. summit in South Africa late next year.

Delegates arrived in Tianjin cautioning observers to lower expectations for the week, saying that they were looking to find agreements on specific issues as a way of rebuilding trust and momentum going into Cancun.

Rich countries like the U.S. have been in disagreement with China and other developing countries over actions each side should take to limit greenhouse gases.

Pershing warned the U.N. climate change process could be at risk unless the bickering countries started to make progress soon.

"The consequences of not having an agreement coming out of Cancun are things we have to worry about, something to be considered seriously," he told reporters.

"Because the process is going to be very hard-pressed to continue to have these enormous sessions... unless we can use the process to good effect."