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

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid