Issue Date: April 8, 2009
The first round of United Nations negotiations on a new climate-change treaty that ended last week gave the international community its first opportunity to feel out the Obama Administration’s positions.
The March 29–April 8 meeting in Bonn was the first of three negotiating sessions scheduled for this year. It served as a venue for governments around the world to toss about ideas ahead of tougher talks to come later this year and a December meeting to complete a new accord.
The meeting yielded no spectacular breakthroughs, but none were expected at this stage of the talks, Rosário Bento Pais, the European Commission’s deputy head of climate strategy, informed reporters.
Jonathan Pershing, U.S. deputy special envoy for climate change, explained that the Obama Administration wants to blend science-based urgency to address mounting levels of greenhouse gases with a politically pragmatic approach. U.S. negotiators want the new treaty to be one that Congress will implement, he told reporters.
Specifically, the U.S. representatives do not want to repeat what happened with the 1997 Kyoto protocol. The Senate rejected that agreement, which calls for industrialized countries to reduce their collective emissions to 5.2% below 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012.
Later this month, governments will submit their ideas for the new treaty. These will be merged into a draft version of the accord, which will be the focus of the next round of talks on June 1–12 in Bonn. Negotiators are also scheduled to meet in Bangkok in September before culminating their work on the agreement in Copenhagen in December.
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