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Copenhagen Roundup: Day 5

UNclimateA greater rift between rich and developing countries is emerging through a war of words as the 15th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15) moves into day 5. Negotiators worked through the night Dec. 10 on a climate aid proposal for developing nations as a way to push the climate talks forward, and news of a draft climate deal emerged.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Dec. 11 that an outline of a UN climate deal came to light on Dec. 10 that basically extends the Kyoto Protocol but would reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for both developed and developing countries. But it has no plan for a legally binding treaty, which will be a concern for developed countries including Australia, according to the article.

A major sticking point, which has significantly slowed negotiations, is whether or not to extend the Kyoto Protocol. U.N’s top climate official Yvo de Boer said the Kyoto Protocol has to be extended until after its 2012 end date in order to keep international carbon markets going, reports The Australian.

De Boer also said that climate talks are making progress on sharing green technologies such as solar, hydro or wind power, but rich nations still need to offer bigger carbon emissions reductions in the range of 25 to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 if a deal is to be reached, reports Reuters.

However, the United States refuses to join the Kyoto Protocol and China and other developing nations don’t want to sign the Kyoto Protocol or any other legally binding agreement, reports The Australian.

Canada also does not want the Kyoto Protocol to continue, and won’t meet its Kyoto targets, reports the Winnipeg Free Press.

Australia’s Climate Change Minister Senator Penny Wong told The Australian that the nation prefers a single new binding agreement for all countries, although a continued Kyoto Protocol or another binding agreement was also possible.

Wong also said in the article that developing economies must put their emission reduction commitments into some form of binding agreement that can be checked and verified.

Perhaps adding some fuel to the fire, the LA Times reported that many developing countries including China, India, Brazil, Algeria, Ethiopia and Bangladesh not only knew in advance about the Danish proposal leaked a few days ago, but also helped draft it, according to a person with knowledge of the negotiations.

The Herald Sun reported on Dec. 11 that China’s ambassador to Australian, Junsai Zhang, has rejected the draft climate deal and is against proposals for GHG emission reductions for developing nations. Zhang is also against dropping the Kyoto commitments made by the developed nations and cutting China, India and Brazil’s share of a $10 billion-a-year financial aid package.

The Wall Street Journal (via Dow Jones) reports on Dec. 11 that EU negotiators are concerned about whether a climate deal could keep the earth temperature within a limit of 2 degrees C, and how a potential accord from a draft could be legally binding.

Still, European leaders want to complete a financial aid package for poorer nations that would run between 2010 and 2012, reports Google News (via AFP).

The European Union has agreed to give 7.2 billion euros ($10.8 billion) to help developing nations tackle climate change, which is about 25 percent of the $30 billion needed over the next three years, reports AFP.

Britain is offering the largest contribution of 884 million euros ($1.3 billion), followed by Sweden with 765 million euros ($1.1 billion) with smaller amounts promised by the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, the Czech Republic and others, reports AFP. France and Germany did not release any details, according to the article.

In addition, the Alliance of Small Island States have offered its own “Copenhagen Protocol” that proposes both emissions reductions from rich countries and big polluting developing countries including China, India and Brazil, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

Dessima Williams, chairwomen of the alliance, said that a number of islands are already experiencing significant damage due to climate change including going under sea and losing their water supply, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

The Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS) supports the alliance’s claims of significant damage to small islands with data that shows there is an increase in acidity — called ocean acidification — in the ocean due to human-related CO2 emissions.

As an example, Ewart F. Brown, Premier of Bermuda, stated in a press release that a small rise in ocean level could have catastrophic effects on Bermuda including major flooding and a disruption in its ecosystem. Brown said it is important that large nations deal with climate change through mitigation and adaptation.

The good news at the conference is that there has been some headway made in discussions on tropical forests. The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting on Dec. 11 that UN negotiators are preparing a $27-billion proposal to save tropical forests in more than 10 countries, and are discussing proposals that would allow investors to earn carbon-emission credits in return for saving trees.

The funds would also finance the monitoring and administration of woodlands between now and 2015, according to the Sydney newspaper.

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