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

Pundits Split Over Long-Term US Role in Afghanistan

Security pact remains condition for American presence beyond 2014; deadline criticized More

US Eyes Islamic State Threat

Officials warn that IS could pose a threat to US homeland More

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Moscow says Russian troops crossed into Ukrainian territory by mistake More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocksi
X
George Putic
August 25, 2014 4:00 PM
How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that was eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports on how one band is bringing Yiddish tango to Los Angeles.
Video

Video Peace Returns to Ferguson as Community Tries to Heal

Thousands of people nationwide are expected to attend funeral services Monday in the U.S. Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri, for Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The shooting touched off days of violent demonstrations there, resulting in more than 100 arrests. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from Ferguson where the community is trying to move on after weeks of racial tension.
Video

Video Meeting in Minsk May Hinge on Putin Story

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet face-to-face Tuesday in Minsk, along with European leaders, for talks on the situation in Ukraine. Political analysts say the much welcomed dialogue could help bring an end to months of deadly clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in the country's southeast. But much depends on the actions of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke English on camera with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from the center of the investigation in London.

AppleAndroid