Dec 04 2012

Climate Conference in Doha Stalls as US and China Dig in Heels

As international negotiators enter their second week of UN sponsored climate talks in Doha, Qatar, the US climate negotiator, Todd Sterns, has raised the same sticking point the US has invoked for years – namely that it rejects the dividing line on emissions reductions drawn between rich nations like the US, and developing nations that countries like China are categorized under. A global pact that holds poorer nations to lower standards on curbing carbon emissions is due to take effect in 2015.

Stern has, in his turn, offered President Obama’s policy goal to cut US carbon emissions by 17% by the year 2020. To achieve that, the President has progressed on higher efficiency standards for cars, appliances, and newly built power plants, and increased investment in cleaner energy sources. His long term goal includes sourcing 80% of the nation’s electricity from so-called clean energies in which he includes problematic sources such as nuclear and natural gas.

But critics say the emissions standards are not high enough, and the timelines not short enough to stave off catastrophic climate change. A new report from the Global Carbon Project revealed that carbon emissions reached a record high – growing by 3.1% in 2011 and expected to grow by another 2.6% this year. That translates into a total of 35.6 billion tonnes of carbon released into the atmosphere this year. The report calls out China, the U.S., the European Union (E.U.) and India as the biggest emitters.

Also being discussed in Doha are fossil fuel subsidies which were supposed to begin being phased out three years ago. However, a new report by Oil Change International yesterday revealed that rich countries gave nearly $60 billion in subsidies to oil and gas companies – the US gave a whopping $13 billion.

GUEST: Michael Dorsey, Visiting Professor of Environmental Studies at the College of Environment at Wesleyan University

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