Nations again try to bridge rich-poor climate gap

November 29, 2010 By ARTHUR MAX , Associated Press
An aerostatics balloon of the environmental group Greenpeace is seen next to the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza in Mexico, Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010. Facing another year without a global deal to curb climate change, the world's nations will spend the next two weeks in Cancun, Mexico, during the annual conference of the 193-nation U.N. climate treaty, debating how to mobilize money to cope with what's coming, as temperatures climb, ice melts, seas rise and the climate that nurtured man shifts in unpredictable ways. (AP Photo/Israel Leal)

(AP) -- World governments begin another attempt Monday to overcome the disconnect between rich and poor nations on fighting global warming, with evidence mounting that the Earth's climate already is changing in ways that will affect both sides of the wealth divide.

During two weeks of talks, the 193-nation U.N. conference hopes to conclude agreements that will clear the way to mobilize billions of dollars for developing countries and give them to help them shift from affecting .

After a disappointing summit last year in Copenhagen, no hope remains of reaching an overarching deal this year setting legal limits on how much major countries would be allowed to pollute. Such an accord was meant to describe a path toward slashing by mid-century, when scientists say they should be half of today's levels.

Eighty-five countries have made specific pledges to reduce emissions or constrain their growth, but those promises amount to far less than required to keep temperatures from rising to potentially dangerous levels.

The recriminations that followed the Danish summit have raised questions over whether the unwieldy U.N. negotiations, which require at least tacit agreement from every nation, can ever work.

But Christiana Figueres, the top U.N. climate official, said world capitals are aware of both a growing environmental and political urgency. "Governments need to prove that the intergovernmental process can deliver," she said Sunday.

"They know that they can do it. They know that they need to compromise. I'm not saying it's a done deal. It's still going to be a heavy lift," she said.

About 15,000 negotiators, environmental activists, businessmen and journalists are convening at a resort complex under elaborate security precautions, including naval warships a few hundred yards (meters) offshore in the .

While delegates haggle over the wording, timing and dollar figures involved in any agreement, scientists and political activists at the conference will be offering the latest indications of the planet's warming. Some 250 presentations are planned on the sidelines of the negotiations.

Meteorologists are likely to report that 2010 will end up tied for the hottest year globally since records began 131 years ago.

The U.N. scientific body that won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for its climate change report, which called global warming "unequivocal" and almost certainly caused by human activity, is expected to tell the conference its findings and warnings of potential disasters are hopelessly out of date.

Agronomists are due to report on shifting weather patterns that are destabilizing the world's food supply and access to clean water, and that could lead to mass migrations as farmers flee drought or flood-prone regions.

As often during the three-year process, attention will focus on the United States and China, key protagonists representing the industrialized and developing world.

U.S. negotiators may feel further constrained from showing flexibility toward the Chinese after the Republican swing in this month's congressional elections, which brought dozens of new legislators who doubt the seriousness of climate change.

The U.S. has insisted it will agree to binding pollution limits only if China also accepts legal limitations. China, now the world's biggest polluter but also the biggest investor in renewable energy, rejects international limits, saying it still needs to overcome widespread poverty and bears no historic responsibility for the problem.

But Figueres, the Costa Rican diplomat who became head of the U.N. climate secretariat in July, said the public argument may appear more bitter than it really is. At the most recent round of talks last October, "they were working very constructively with each other inside the negotiations," she said.

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4 / 5 (4) Nov 29, 2010
debating how to mobilize money to cope with what's coming, as temperatures climb, ice melts, seas rise and the climate that nurtured man shifts in unpredictable ways

Wow, that belongs in a romance novel. "the climate that nurtured man"? Oh really? I think it would be more accurate to talk about the climate that tries to kill us every time we turn around. The whole idea of the Earth and Nature being a mother is based on Pegan religious beliefs from the stone age, literally.

Just for fun, print out the article above and go over it with two highlighter pens. Mark off everything that's purely the writer's opinion in one color. Then mark off the quotes of other people's opinions in the other color, and take a look at what's left over. Don't be shy about calling stuff opinion, even if it agrees with your opinion if you want to be really fair.
3.7 / 5 (3) Nov 29, 2010
...the climate that nurtured man shifts in unpredictable ways...

Now hold on there just a danged minute.

Unpredictable? I thought the science was in, the debate over, the consensus obtained, only Neanderthal knuckle-dragging capitalist-roader denialists think that what IPCC predicts won't come to happen, precisely as, and when, predicted by the computers?

What, it might take until 2039 until the Himalayas become beachfront properly instead of 2035? Please define this "unpredictable" thingy for us.
3 / 5 (2) Nov 30, 2010
"The U.S. has insisted it will agree to binding pollution limits only if China also accepts legal limitations"

This is BS too. The US delegate to the UN can't make laws or "agree" to any "binding" climate limits. That isn't how laws work here in this country. They can promise anything they want, but Congress still has to make the laws and they have to be voted on by our representatives and pass the veto right of the president, and then they are still subject to constitutional review by the courts. They can't even promise money without getting the funding approved first. We could send troops though. We can bomb just about anyone we want, as long as we don't bomb them too much, without Congressional approval. Maybe we should start bombing some small country and not stop until the UN stops holding these useless meeting in exotic locations. Why don't they hold them at the UN headquarters I wonder?
3 / 5 (2) Nov 30, 2010
Part of the problem here is that the UN group has lots of countries with issues like human rights problems, terrorism, drugs, corruption, treaty violation, etc. Countries like China, the US, England, France, Russia, etc. aren't going to agree to a deal that ends up sending piles of money to those countries. No Way, Never!

If America is such a big polluter, then why would we send our money to Zimbabwe to fix the problem? Shouldn't we be buying solar panels here first? The same can be said for any industrialized country who is being asked to pay third world countries some kind of climate reparation money. I frankly don't think it makes sense. We don't owe them a climate fine, thank you very much. The UN process is broken and the insiders know it. That's why this Cancune meeting isn't expected to generate any results. Read the comments mad by the previous UN climate head when she resigned in July.
5 / 5 (2) Nov 30, 2010
AGW, carbon caps, environmental reparations... these are all arguments a small portion of scientists make to further their social ideas and force the redistribution of wealth through fear.
1 / 5 (1) Dec 01, 2010
OH, and by the way, that picture at the top of this article looks photoshopped. Just sayin'

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