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

    South Sudan Sends First Ever Official Olympic Team to Rio

    VOA caught up with Santino Kenyi, 16, one of three athletes who will compete in this year's summer games in Brazil

    Arrest of Malawi's 'Hyena' Man Highlights Clash of Ritual, Health and Women's Rights

    Ritual practice of deflowering young girls is blamed for spreading deadly AIDS virus

    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    VOA finds things Americans take for granted are special to foreigners

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora