The State of Climate Change Negotiations

Althoughthere were some important promises made at the G20 Summit inPittsburgh, climate change negotiations are progressing at adangerously slow rate.
Japan and China have indicated that theyare prepared to make significant cuts to their greenhouse gas (GHG)emissions. The new Japanese Premier has offered to reduce GHG emissions25%from 1990 levels by 2020. The climate change legislation that waspassed by the House of Representatives in the spring agrees to a 17% reduction from 2005 to 2020.

Chinapledged to improve energy efficiency, and for the first time Chinapledged to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions in proportion toeconomic growth (carbon intensity) but failed to provide specificnumbers.

US President Barack Obama introduced the idea ofphasing out fossil fuel subsidies over time, to help improve energyefficiency and "transition to a 21st-century clean energy economy."

The word currently spends $300 billiona year to subsidized fuel prices, this keeps prices low and boostsdemand leading to more emissions. Citing data from the InternationalEnergy Agency and the Organization for Economic Cooperation andDevelopment, it is estimated that eradicating such subsidies wouldreduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent by 2050.

"Overall, I still feel better than I did a week ago," said Kim Carstensen,head of the World Wildlife Fund’s Global Climate Initiative. "We had100 leaders in the U.N. in New York come together and they actuallytalked about climate change in a significantly committed way. We havethe door open."

However the G20 did not advance discussionsabout the difficult question of financial aid for developing nations.This is the main climate question the G20 must resolve. Unless they canfind a way to finance developing nations carbon emission reductions,there will be no global deal to combat climate change.

As Bill McKibben, an environmentalist and author who heads the climate advocacy group said,."Climate financing is going to be absolutely key if we’re going to have a deal in Copenhagen."



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