UN Sees No Climate Change Solution Without US
Author: Daniel Wallis
He said the United States needed to take significant steps to cut emissions or there would be no solution to climate change, despite an agreement in Bali on negotiations to replace the Kyoto climate pact.
Delegates from 190 nations agreed on Dec. 15 to launch negotiations on a new pact to fight climate change after a last-minute reversal by the United States allowed a breakthrough at the talks on the Indonesian resort island.
The White House says the deal marked a new chapter in climate diplomacy after six years of disputes with major allies, but it still has "serious concerns" about the way forward.
"There is no solution to global warming without the United States, but also the United States will not escape the consequences of global warming without having a global agreement in which all nations are part of reducing CO2 emissions," Steiner told Reuters in an interview late on Thursday.
"The bottom line is: there is no alternative to trying to find an agreement in which the US, as the major emitter historically speaking and also today, takes significant action."
Several US cities and the state of California were taking steps to reduce carbon emissions blamed by a UN climate panel for warming that could cause seas to rise sharply, glaciers to melt and storms and droughts to become more intense.
"It is now really a question of whether the (US) federal administration ... can find a way to see the global framework for reducing emissions being influenced in such a way that is compatible with national interests in America, but also delivers results in terms of actual emissions reduction."
The Bali meeting approved a "roadmap" for two years of negotiations to adopt a new treaty to succeed Kyoto beyond 2012.
It also widens Kyoto to include the United States and developing nations like China and India. A successor pact is meant to be agreed at a meeting in Copenhagen in late 2009.
Agreement by 2009 would give governments time to ratify the pact and give certainty to markets and investors wanting to switch to cleaner energies, like wind and solar power.
The deal after two weeks of talks came when the United States dramatically dropped opposition to a proposal by the main developing-nation bloc, the G77, for rich nations to do more to help the developing world fight rising greenhouse emissions.
The focus is now on forging an "equitable" framework that works for nations, politically and economically -- which experts say is one of the most complex diplomatic puzzles ever.
"Historically speaking, it seems a small hurdle," Steiner said. "But with the politics as they stand, it is still a major hurdle to be overcome."
(Editing by Janet Lawrence)