Magazine article Issues in Science and Technology

Climate Change Debate Remains Deadlocked

Magazine article Issues in Science and Technology

Climate Change Debate Remains Deadlocked

Article excerpt

Although the House passed a climate change bill in 2009, the Senate remains deadlocked, an outcome that effectively took the steam out of the international climate change talks that were scheduled for Copenhagen December 7 to 18.

The Copenhagen talks were aimed at forging a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol. But even before the talks began, it was announced that only an interim agreement would be sought in 2009, with negotiations for a new treaty to reduce the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that are causing climate change delayed until 2010.

At a November 4 hearing of the House Committee on Foreign Relations, Todd Stern, the special envoy for climate change at the State Department, said that U.S. expectations for Copenhagen included a restatement of the need to act and an agreement on language for mitigation assistance, forest protection, and adaptation. Stern said that any meaningful international agreement would require that developing countries reduce emissions below business-as-usual levels. Vulnerable countries should receive financial and technological assistance to meet these goals, he said.

Limits on emissions and foreign aid to achieve these cuts in developing countries, particularly those with sizable emissions such as China and India, have been key points of contention in the negotiations. In recent bilateral meetings, the United States appears to be making progress with China. The two countries recently established several partnerships on clean energy, and both countries have announced carbon emissions reduction goals. Stern was optimistic in the hearing, noting that countries such as China will probably do more on their own to reduce emissions than they are willing to agree to in an international treaty.

Meanwhile, the Senate has begun to advance climate legislation, though much work remains. …

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