News / Science & Technology

UN Climate Meeting No Closer to New Treaty

Delegates attend the closing session of the 19th conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP19) in Warsaw, Nov. 22, 2013.
Delegates attend the closing session of the 19th conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP19) in Warsaw, Nov. 22, 2013.
Rosanne Skirble
Negotiators from 190 countries at the U.N. climate talks in Warsaw, Poland, have made little progress towards forging a new treaty to curb global warming.  Core issues continue to divide the world community as the meeting wraps up.

Negotiators in Warsaw were not able to lay the groundwork for a new treaty, says Annie Petsonk, international counsel and treaty expert for the Environmental Defense Fund.      

“The meeting didn’t fall apart.  That’s good," she said.  "But in terms of accomplishments, we did not expect major breakthroughs at this meeting.  We expected it to be a fairly ‘get down to work’ meeting.”  

Despite two weeks of talks, Petsonk says the delegates made no headway on setting targets to cut dirty fossil fuel emissions from power plants, cars and buildings linked to global warming.

“A second issue is what financing are the wealthier countries going to put forward to help the poorer countries to both reduce emissions and help adapt to a changing climate?  And on those twin issues [emissions cuts and financing] there was not significant progress at this meeting, and that’s a source of big frustration,” she said.  

Poorer countries were especially frustrated that there was little sign in Warsaw that developed nations would deliver on a promise to help them with $100 billion annually by 2020.  

On the emissions front, China has surpassed the United States as the world’s largest polluter.  Yet in the context of the negotiations, it is still considered a developing nation and not required to make the same cuts as industrialized countries.  Petsonk is hopeful that China, which never ratified the Kyoto Climate Change Protocol, will play a greater role in any new agreement.  

“China has a dual motivation for wanting to engage in the global effort, and that’s not only because of the climate change impacts, but also many of the things that produce greenhouse gas emissions are contributing to horrendous air pollution problems in major Chinese cities,” she said.  

Anger over the lack of meaningful progress in Warsaw led some 800 environmental and development activists - including major groups like Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund - to walk out of the talks. Petsonk says despite the walkout, an even larger segment of the community stayed, among them the Environmental Defense Fund, the advocacy and research group she represents.  

“We’re committed to trying to get the maximum we can out of the [United Nations] Framework Convention on Climate Change [UNFCCC] and we also recognize that the UNFCCC is not the only game in town," she said. "There are a number of other forums where governments are trying to tackle the climate problem.  So the multilateral forum of all 190 countries plus in the world that are meeting in Warsaw is one setting, but there are smaller groupings of countries getting together to try to boost action in other areas.”  

One hopeful sign in Warsaw was agreement to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation.  Petsonk says nations must move forward to craft a plan that can measure countries' commitments to avert climate catastrophe.

You May Like

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs