At Copenhagen, many global warming issues likely to be unresolved
As the Copenhagen global warming talks head into their final days, observers say many climate change issues are likely to be left unresolved.
(Page 2 of 2)
Possible outcomesSkip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
First and foremost, this will not be a legal document, but a political agreement, he said.
Emissions-control offers -- particularly from the US and developing countries -- likely will be included in the document.
In the US case, the condition is congressional approval of energy and climate legislation, which probably won't happen before next spring.
Other offers from major developing countries hinge on getting what they see as adequate financial support from rich nations.
Putting those offers into some form of treaty likely will be negotiated over the coming year, Mr. Marsh adds.
One matter that looks as though it could be resolved by week's end is so-called fast-start money -- some $10 billion a year from 2010 through 2012 that developed countries would give to developing nations as a down payment on longer-term financing to help poorer nations adopt cleaner technologies and find ways to mitigate the effects of higher temperatures.
Mr. Diringer says any political agreement at Copenhagen must set a deadline for resolving outstanding issues and crafting the legal language needed to eventually pull the results together into a formal treaty.
In addition, any agreement will preserve the two "tracks" of talks that have been underway: one covering a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol; the second crafting the political agreement that brings the US and developing countries into an international climate regime.
Finally, a final Copenhagen document is likely to include some numbers on a long-term temperature goal, variously debated here as either 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, or a 1.5-degree goal backed by many developing countries.
"There will have to be a finessing of those numbers; I don't think we'll see a single number," Diringer says.
As for commitments on long-term aid for developing countries, which some say needs to be more than $100 billion a year by 2020, it will be challenging for the US to come up with specific numbers, Diringer says. That is one topic whose details may get kicked into further negotiations over the next year.
Indeed, The Nature Conservancy's Marsh sees the short-term money as a confidence-building measure developed countries can offer up to ease developing country mistrust of their richer counterparts.
"These negotiations get pulled into a long history and debate between developing and developed countries. In many senses, developing countries feel like they've run through a series of broken promises, not just on climate change, but on a wide variety of other issues," he says.
The thorny issue of monitoring, reporting, and verification of any nation's pledged actions is likely to get pushed off to next year. This has been a prickly issue, especially between the US and China.
"The whole process is all about trust," Marsh says. Each country needs "a level of comfort that it can act because it knows its partners are acting in an appropriate way, depending on their own national circumstance."