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Groundwork Laid for Copenhagen Climate Talks

climateWith the first draft of global climate texts complete, individual nations must get down to the business of deciding their positions in advance of final climate talks later this year in Copenhagen, Denmark.

A United Nations group on May 15 detailed some potential provisions for nuclear power, emissions trading, forests, shipping and aviation.

Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said that reaching a global concensus will be difficult to reach. But de Boer said  he was heartened by recent climate legislation advances in the United States.

One of the goals lays beyond the United States ambition, however. The framework suggests that rich nations cut emissions to less than half of 1990 levels by 2018-2022, according to The Washington Post. By 2020, under President Obama’s plan, the U.S. would revert to 1990 emissions levels, far short of the UN climate panel’s goal of half the 1990 levels. Recent compromises by Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee mean that legislation may call for a reduced 2020 emissions target. Initial versions of the legislation called for a 20 percent cut by then. Now, the committee is calling for a 17 percent reduction.

The panel discussed ways to allow developed nations to claim carbon trading credits from green investments, such as hydropower or solar, in poor countries. There is dissent on whether to expand such credits to nuclear power plants or carbon capture and storage for fossil fuel plants. The panel said that nations must decide whether to accept, reject or shelve these decisions until 2010 or 2011.

The framework laid out options for accounting for forestry or land use changes in developed nations.

The European Union also is pushing to add international shipping and aviation to carbon trading schemes. Under the existing Kyoto Protocol, fuel burned on planes and ships on international routes is exempt.

More details of the talks are expected to be revealed May 18.

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