Diplomats ponder four options as Durban talks move into final two days

12-07-2011 // Lisa Friedman and Jean Chemnick - ClimateWire

This excerpt is from ClimateWire

Amid pleas for action and ambition by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as well as African and small island nation presidents, countries here are playing a game of brinkmanship over the fate of the Kyoto Protocol and waiting to see who will blink first.

Overnight, diplomats at the U.N. climate negotiations debated four possible directions the world's leading greenhouse gas polluters might cut carbon in future years -- an issue that has become intimately linked to whether the Kyoto Protocol lives or dies.

Of those, the U.S. is backing what many here feel is the least ambitious outcome: focusing almost exclusively on bringing the Cancun Agreements negotiated last year to life. The agreements set emission targets from major emitters and call for a reporting system to verify progress and launch of a Green Climate Fund to help vulnerable countries.

The option makes no move toward an ultimate legally binding agreement on cutting emissions.


"I think that we should not go to our lowest common denominator," said Larry Schweiger, president of the National Wildlife Federation.

"Because we somehow have a cantankerous House of Representatives, and we're not going to move forward on climate policy, therefore we really can't commit to anything, is not the right answer," he said. "I think its time to have this argument -- to have this robust fight -- over the U.S. as a leader in fighting the worldwide climate problem."

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