Sense of Urgency Greater Over Climate Deal - UK
Author: Sylvia Westall
Diplomats hope that a meeting in Indonesia in December of
UN environment ministers will agree to start talks to find a
successor to the Kyoto Protocol, the only global deal on cutting
climate warming carbon emissions but which expires in 2012.
"Time is not on our side and frankly we've just got to get
on with it," Benn told Reuters on the margins of a two-day
meeting in Berlin of environment and energy ministers from the
group of 20 (G20) nations.
"I think there is a recognition that we absolutely have to
launch the process at Bali. It's been encouraging in that
sense," he said of the meeting's progress.
But success is far from guaranteed.
Kyoto took five years to negotiate and another eight to come
into force -- a timeframe that, if repeated, scientists say
would push the world deep into unknown climate territory.
Scientists say global average temperatures will rise by
between 1.8 and 4 degrees Celsius this century unless urgent
action is taken to curb emissions of so-called greenhouse gases
from burning fossil fuels for power and transport.
But the world's top polluter the United States rejected
Kyoto as economic suicide and has made repeated efforts to
At the same time booming carbon emitters such as China and
India are not bound by the treaty and are resisting calls for
them to agree to binding cut targets under any successor deal.
Germany has said a new deal must be decided by the end of
2009 at the latest. But even that is very tight if ratification
is to take place before 2012.
"We've had some really straight talking over the past couple
of days," was all Benn would say when asked if the end of 2009
deal deadline remained a possibility.
The United States has called a meeting of major emitter
nations at the end of September -- a move welcomed by some as
evidence President George W. Bush has finally got the climate
message and rejected by others as a bid to undermine Bali.
Benn, who was appointed head of the Department of
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in June as part of Prime
Minister Gordon Brown's new cabinet, emphasised that the Bali
talks should be at the centre of climate negotiations.
"The British government really welcomes the fact that the
United States is now engaged in this way because that does
represent a change from before," Benn said.
"But the other thing that was extremely clear about the
discussions over the past few days is a shared recognition of
the primacy of the United Nations," he said. "That is where it
is going to have to be done and no one argues about that."