The decision by some world leaders to not seek a binding climate change agreement in Copenhagen has dealt a significant setback to efforts leading up to December’s meeting, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Instead, Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen has proposed to Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders a politically binding agreement that would commit to mitigation and finance, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Two key factors have slowed down a consensus from world leaders ahead of December’s meeting — opposition by the U.S. Congress over President Obama’s climate change proposals and a battle with developing countries over binding emission reduction targets, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Chinese President Hu Jintao, for example, reiterated China’s stance at the APEC meeting that rich nations need to provide financial support to developing nations to help fight climate change, reports Deutsche Welle.
Other countries like France specifically blamed the U.S. for a lack of support for a binding agreement in Copenhagen, according to Deutsche Welle.
While President Obama has pushed for comprehensive national legislation on climate change, he has agreed with other world leaders to work on an interim agreement until a binding treaty agreement next year, reports the New York Times.
Although the Obama Administration has moved to limit greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles and coal-burning power plants, he’s limited by the inaction of the Senate to begin debate on climate legislation, despite the House passing a stringent bill in June, reports the New York Times.
President Obama supports the prime minister of Denmark’s call for a two-step process at the Copenhagen meeting — first formulating a political agreement calling for reductions in emissions and aid for developing countries followed by a global binding pact in 2010 with concrete numbers for emissions targets and aid to developing countries, reports the New York Times.
However, there are some upsides to the decision. The delay could give President Obama the time he needs to get the Senate onboard and set up a U.S. cap-and-trade program, and if the U.S. signs the new treaty, it could mean that China will sign the treaty as well, reports the Guardian.
In addition, the European Union still hasn’t reached a consensus on how much financial aid it should offer developing countries, reports the Guardian.
Like the U.S., New Zealand’s political parties are battling over its cap-and-trade program.
New Zealand’s political parties can’t agree on an emissions trading scheme (ETS) due to “time constraints and divergent views,” reports the New Zealand Herald.
As an example, the ACT party said it wasn’t sure if human-caused global warming existed, and the nation should wait until after the Copenhagen meeting and until Australia and the U.S. finalized their trading programs, reports the New Zealand Herald.
In addition, both the Maori and ACT parties prefer a carbon tax, reports the newspaper.