COP15 cop-outs and challenges

President Barack Obama spoke Friday to the leaders of 193 nations gathered at the climate change summit, after a pre-speech summit with leaders of 17 other countries. China refused to attend, reports the Washington Post:

Western leaders pointed to China’s resistance to international monitoring as a major stumbling block to hammering out an agreement. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, who declined to attend a pre-plenary emergency meeting with Obama and other world leaders, sending an aide instead, urged delegates in his own remarks to trust his country’s pledge to reduce its carbon intensity by 40 to 45 percent.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao later met privately with President Obama for nearly an hour.

The draft statement, arrived at after negotiators worked through the night, outlines general goals but makes compromises dictated by political pressures:

It provides a way for industrialized nations to commit “aggregate reductions of greenhouse gases” by 2020, and allows for this number to by judged based on both a 1990 baseline–which the European Union has insisted is the most meaningful date–and a 2005 baseline, which the U.S., Japan and other developed countries have endorsed. The draft text includes all the existing near-term emission-cut pledges that industrial countries have made, and it would establish a 2050 target for reducing worldwide greenhouse gas emissions that would include all countries.

European leaders have continued to press both the United States and China to increase their goals for cutting carbon emissions. The United States has committed to cuts “in the neighborhood” of 17 percent from 2005 levels, and insists on transparency and monitoring provisions that China has resisted.

In addition, the draft contains the promise of “$10 billion a year in public and private financing to help poor countries cope with climate change over the next three years, with a long-term goal of getting to $100 billion annually by 2020.”

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton pledged Thursday that the United States would contribute its share of the billions promised to poor countries, but with conditions, according to the New York Times:

Mrs. Clinton’s offer came with two significant conditions. First, the 192 nations involved in the talks here must reach a comprehensive political agreement that takes effect immediately. Second, and more critically, all nations must agree to some form of verification — she repeatedly used the term “transparency” — to ensure they are meeting their environmental promises.

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