clear
Tuesday May 31st, 2016 9:47PM

Modest deal breaks deadlock at UN climate talks

By The Associated Press
WARSAW, Poland (AP) -- Avoiding a last-minute breakdown, annual U.N. climate talks limped forward Saturday with a modest set of decisions meant to pave the way for a new pact to fight global warming.

More than 190 countries agreed in Warsaw to start preparing "contributions" for the new deal, which is supposed to be adopted in 2015.

That term was adopted after China and India objected to the word "commitments" in a standoff with the U.S. and other developed countries.

The fast-growing economies say they are still developing countries and shouldn't have to take on as strict commitments to cut carbon emissions as industrialized nations.

"In the nick of time, negotiators in Warsaw delivered just enough to keep things moving," said Jennifer Morgan, of the World Resources Institute, an environmental think tank.

The conference also advanced a program to reduce deforestation and established a "loss and damage" mechanism to help island states and other vulnerable countries under threat from rising seas, extreme weather and other climate impacts.

The wording was vague enough to make rich countries feel comfortable that they weren't going to be held liable for climate catastrophes in the developing world.

U.S. and other rich countries also resisted demands to put down firm commitments on how they plan to fulfill a pledge to scale up climate financing to developing countries to $100 billion by 2020.

That money is meant to help developing countries transition to cleaner energy sources and adapt to shifts in climate that can affect agriculture, human health and economies in general.

"I think we had a good outcome in the end. It was quite a tough negotiation," U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern said.

The U.N. climate talks were launched two decades ago after scientists warned that humans were warming the planet by pumping CO2 and other heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere, primarily through the burning of fossil fuels. So far they've failed to reduce those emissions.

Historically, most emissions have come from the industrialized nations, but the developing world is catching up fast, driven by rapid growth in major countries including India, Brazil and China - the world's top carbon polluter.

Though China has invested heavily in renewable sources it's reluctant to promise emissions cuts internationally because it still gets almost 70 percent of its energy from coal, which produces the highest emissions of all fuels.

The talks were paralyzed for hours Saturday until China and India dropped demands for a reference to an article in the 1992 U.N. convention on climate change that says only developed countries are required to make commitments to cut emissions.

Western countries want to get rid of that "firewall" in the new climate deal, which countries have agreed should be applicable to all.

"In my understanding the firewall exists and it will continue to exist," Indian Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan said, indicating the issue is far from resolved.

The Warsaw conference called on parties to announce their offers to rein in or cut emissions by the first quarter of 2015 if they are "in a position to do so." But it gave little detail on what kind of information should go into those offers.

"Unfortunately, they failed to agree on what process and criteria they would use to evaluate the adequacy and fairness of each other's proposed actions," said Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

It also remains unclear what legal form the agreement should take.

Environmental activists, many of whom walked out of the talks in protest on Thursday, called the conference a failure for failing to deliver strong commitments to address climate change, and pointed to Typhoon Haiyan's devastation in the Philippines as a sign of urgency.

A single typhoon or hurricane cannot be conclusively linked to climate change but rising sea levels can make storm surges stronger.

"Negotiators in Warsaw should have used this meeting to take a big and critical step towards global, just action on climate change. That didn't happen," said Samantha Smith, a climate activist at the World Wildlife Fund. "This has placed the negotiations towards a global agreement in 2015 at risk."
© Copyright 2016 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
S&P 500 index has its best year since 1997
The stock market closed out a record year with more all-time highs on Tuesday, giving U.S. indexes their biggest annual gains in almost two decades.
6:56PM ( 2 years ago )
Colorado readies for 'Green Wednesday' pot sales
Police were adding extra patrols around pot shops in eight Colorado towns that plan to allow recreational sales to anyone over 21 on Jan. 1.
1:52PM ( 2 years ago )
Kerry seeks framework for Mideast peace talks
A senior State Department official says Secretary of State John Kerry will try this week to get Israel and the Palestinians to agree on a framework for negotiating a final peace agreement, yet cautions against raising expectations for Kerry's latest round of shuttle diplomacy.
1:35PM ( 2 years ago )
U.S. News
Missing Ga. bank director arrested in Brunswick
A bank director accused of losing millions of investors' dollars before vanishing last year was arrested Tuesday during a traffic stop in a city in south Georgia.
7:00PM ( 2 years ago )
Amtrak to suspend some Crescent service in Jan., Feb.
Amtrak service will shut down in parts of the Southeast for several days in January and February for rail maintenance by Norfolk Southern Railway.
9:00AM ( 2 years ago )
Lung cancer scans urged for some smokers, not all
Certain current or former heavy smokers should start getting yearly scans for lung cancer to cut their risk of death from the nation's top cancer killer, government advisers said Monday - even as they stressed that the tests aren't for everyone.
7:26AM ( 2 years ago )
Business News
Sex offender held in Hall County for failing to register
A 47-year-old man was booked into the Hall County Jail Tuesday, being held without bond for allegedly failing to register as a sex offender, his second such arrest.
6:09PM ( 2 years ago )
Pharmacy robberies may involve same suspect
Oakwood Police Tuesday afternoon released details in a pharmacy robbery they're investigating, similar to one that happened in the Hall County Tuesday morning.
5:46PM ( 2 years ago )
Victim critical following apartment fire
A 41-year-old woman was in critical but stable condition Tuesday after being rescued from an apartment fire in Forsyth County late Monday afternoon.
3:16PM ( 2 years ago )
Local/State News
Feeling US snub, Saudis strengthen ties elsewhere
Increasingly vocal in its frustration over U.S. policies in the Mideast, Saudi Arabia is strengthening ties elsewhere, seeking out an alignment that will bolster its position after it was pushed to the sidelines this year.
4:34PM ( 2 years ago )
NSA reportedly intercepts computer deliveries
A German magazine has lifted the lid on the operations of the National Security Agency's hacker unit, revealing how American spies intercepted computer deliveries, exploited hardware vulnerabilities, and even hijacked Microsoft's bug report system to spy on their targets.
12:31PM ( 2 years ago )
Rockets fired from Lebanon into Israel
Rockets from Lebanon struck northern Israel on Sunday, causing no injuries but sparking an Israeli reprisal shelling in a rare flare-up between the two countries.
12:26PM ( 2 years ago )
Politics
Amid shouts of 'shame,' House GOP defeats gay rights measure
Democrats shouted "shame," but House Republicans switched their votes and defeated a measure to protect gay rights
8:03PM ( 1 week ago )
CDC director Freiden warns GOP Zika bill is inadequate
The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Wednesday that a House GOP measure to combat the Zika virus is inadequate to deal with the swelling threat to public health
7:36PM ( 1 week ago )
Trump unveils list of his top picks for Supreme Court
Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, released Wednesday a list of 11 potential Supreme Court justices he plans to vet to fill the seat of late Justice Antonin Scalia if he's elected to the White House.
3:31PM ( 1 week ago )
1st US penis transplant could bring hope to maimed soldiers
A 64-year-old cancer patient has received the nation's first penis transplant, a groundbreaking operation that may also help U.S. veterans maimed by roadside bombs
8:04PM ( 2 weeks ago )
States dig in against directive on transgender bathroom use
Politicians in Texas, Arkansas and elsewhere are vowing defiance over the Obama administration's new directive on transgender bathroom use
9:19PM ( 2 weeks ago )