Monthly Archives: Νοέμβριος 2012
China, EU Comments Show Reduced Scope of UN Climate Talks
By Alex Morales & Kim Chipman – Nov 29, 2012 BLOOMBERG
China teamed with the European Union and envoys from the bloc of 48 Least Developed Countries to dial back expectations for United Nations climate talks, indicating that there probably aren’t any new promises for aid or cuts in greenhouse gases on the horizon.
China ruled out the idea of capping growth in fossil-fuel emissions from developing nations before 2020, while EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said she can’t provide specific details about how the bloc’s 27 countries plan to meet meet commitments for boosting aid to poorer nations.
The comments circumscribe potential agreements as delegates from more than 190 countries gather in Doha, Qatar, seeking to complete negotiations on two key issues while opening discussions on a third. The climate talks come as a UN agency warned that the U.S. was headed for its warmest year on record and German researchers said sea levels are rising faster than expected because of fossil-fuel pollution.
“Partial loss of ice sheets on polar land could imply meters of sea-level rise, major changes in coastlines and inundation of low lying areas, with greatest effects in river deltas and low-lying islands,” Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which assesses science for the UN, told delegates in Doha. “More rapid sea level rise on century timescales cannot be excluded.”
Developing nations blame industrial countries for failing to cut emissions quickly enough, threatening the goal of preventing average temperature from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) from pre-industrial times. The World Meteorological Organization said 2012 was on track to be the ninth-hottest on record.
China ruled out imposing a cap in greenhouse-gas emissions in developing nations by 2020, because adopting such early targets would constrain economic growth.
The U.S. and EU both have said they won’t go beyond current promises at this meeting. The U.S. has pledged a 17 percent reduction in emissions by 2020 and the EU 20 percent, levels that won’t be enough to meet the UN’s 2-degree goal.
“In order to eradicate poverty and try to improve living standards, we need to develop,” Su Wei, China’s lead negotiator at the talks, said in an interview in Doha with a group of journalists. “So of course the emissions will need to grow for a period of time. The direction of policy is very clear. It’s directed at peaking of emissions as early as possible.”
Su faulted the U.S. for not doing enough to fight global warming and said he hoped President Barack Obama would do more in his second term. He joined with Brazil and the Least Developed countries group Nov. 27 in seeking a “roadmap” for how industrial nations will meet a commitment to boost climate aid to $100 billion by 2020.
“New pledges are needed at least for the next three years, which are at least double the $10 billion a year over the last three years,” Martin Kaiser, an international climate policy analyst at Greenpeace, said in an interview. “It has to scale up.”
Hedegaard told reporters in Brussels it “will not be doable” to provide details about specific plans to boost aid at the Doha meeting.
“We had our finance ministers discussing that this month and there’s a very clear recognition that we know that we have to come up with more money, we know that we have to bridge to the long-term financing,” Hedegaard said.
Aid is the linchpin holding the talks together, the incentive richer nations give to the poorer ones that enables them to push through changes at home, said Tim Gore, an analyst at the charity Oxfam who is observing the negotiations in Doha. Without the funds, momentum behind the talks may fizzle.
“The real risk is that finance in the next two weeks could crash this COP,” said Gore, who is observing the meeting, the 18th Conference of the Parties to the UN’s 1992 treaty on climate change.
Envoys at the talks are focusing on extending the existing climate treaty that was agreed upon in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan. It calls on industrial nations to cut emissions 5 percent from 1990 levels by the end of this year.
The U.S. never ratified it, and Japan, Russia, Canada and New Zealand have said they won’t make new commitments under the treaty after current ones expire next month. That leaves the EU and Australia as the main participants, accounting for less than 15 percent of global emissions.
This year, the UN intends to finish negotiations on Kyoto and also on a second track of the talks known as Long Term Cooperative Action, or LCA, that’s designed to spell out emissions reduction efforts by nations that don’t have Kyoto targets. In its place, it will open a new strand of discussions aimed at drafting a new treaty by 2015 that would come into force by 2020.
“Everybody has to have the feeling that the LCA was closed in a satisfactory manner,” said Andre Correa do Lago, Brazil’s ambassador to the talks. “Everything has to be put somewhere. This is going to be a very delicate negotiation.”
Some negotiators expressed optimism that none of the disagreements are too big to hold up a resolution when the conference is due to conclude on Dec. 7.
The European Commission’s lead negotiator said meetings had been scheduled for after 6 p.m., showing that “people are getting serious and starting to roll up their sleeves.”
“I think the more we talk about these issues and remind each other” of our goals, there “should be resolution,” Evans Njewa, a diplomat from Malawi who is lead negotiator for the group of least developed countries, said in an interview.
The Chinese envoy Su said, “We all know we cannot resolve all the issues in Doha. We need to make the necessary arrangements to ensure all those unresolved issues remain on the table.”
Iran Delay of Reactor to 2014 Gives Talks Time
By Jonathan Tirone – Nov 29, 2012 BLOOMBERG
Iran’s decision to delay the startup of a plutonium-producing reactor until 2014 creates time for negotiations and may reduce threats of military strikes to disrupt the Persian Gulf nation’s nuclear work, said four western diplomats familiar with the talks.
International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors reported earlier this month that Iran wouldn’t begin operating a new heavy-water reactor in Arak this year as the Iranians originally planned. The United Nations Security Council has repeatedly ordered the country to stop work on the project.
The diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the subject’s sensitivity, said the delay creates a window of opportunity for a peaceful resolution to the decade-long stalemate over Iran’s nuclear work. The Islamic Republic’s atomic program will be the subject of talks at today’s quarterly IAEA meeting in Vienna.
No country in the Middle East has finished building a plutonium-producing reactor since Israel’s Dimona reactor began operating in 1963. Israeli warplanes destroyed Iraq’s Osirak heavy-water reactor in a June 1981 raid. Another Israeli attack destroyed an alleged Syrian heavy-water reactor near al-Kibar in September 2007.
“There has been relatively little concern expressed about the prospect that the Arak reactor would give Iran a capability to generate weapons-grade plutonium,” said Mark Hibbs, a nuclear analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “Many of the world’s unsafeguarded nuclear programs — in North Korea, Pakistan, Israel and India — have pursued the plutonium route to the bomb using reactors similar to that which Iran is currently building.”
Arak has no scientific or technological problems and scientists will begin testing the reactor in the “near future” by loading inert slugs without nuclear material into the fuel rods, the Islamic Republic News Agency said yesterday, citing Fereydoon Abbasi-Davani, head of the country’s Atomic Energy Organization. IAEA inspectors haven’t been able to monitor Arak’s construction since Iran completed its dome in 2009.
Access to Arak has been a central point of contention between Iran and IAEA inspectors. Iran says investigators aren’t entitled to design information about the facility until nuclear fuel has been loaded into the plant. The UN agency contends the country is obligated to provide detailed data about the site.
The so-called P5+1 — comprising China, France, Germany, Russia, the U.K. and the U.S. — is seeking another round of negotiations with Iran in December, the diplomats said. IAEA inspectors will travel to Tehran on Dec. 13 for talks seeking to win wider access to the country’s facilities.
Plutonium can be extracted from fuel rods inside heavy- water reactors to make atomic bombs. North Korea obtained plutonium for its nuclear weapons from the heavy-water reactor in Yongbyon. Detonation of one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of plutonium is equivalent to about 20,000 tons of chemical explosives, according to the Federation of American Scientists.
The first plutonium weapon ever used, the U.S. “Fat Boy” bomb that destroyed Nagasaki in 1945, contained about 6.2 kilograms of plutonium.
The U.S. administration of President Barack Obama cautioned against reading too much into the technical status of Iran’s activities because it offers little insight into the country’s intentions, a senior official said on condition of anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has urged the international community to set a clear “red line” on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear work. Netanyahu, up for re-election in January, said on Nov. 5 that Iran’s atomic program will cease to exist by the end of his next term if he wins the vote.
Iran should engage seriously in negotiations, an Israeli government official said today, without commenting on whether a delay of the Arak reactor would change the calculation over a military strike to stop the nuclear program.
“I do not want to set a red line or a deadline,” IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said today at a press briefing in Vienna, adding that military threats against Iran aren’t disrupting the agency’s work. “Our inspectors continue to be able to verify material placed under safeguards agreement.”
Inspectors traveling to Tehran for negotiations next month will be ready to visit Iran’s Parchin military complex on short notice if they’re invited, Amano said. Iranian activities at the site, suspected of housing a chamber used for nuclear- weapons- related research, risk undermining IAEA investigators’ ability to verify the events that took place there, he said.
While Iran has said Arak will be used to produce medical isotopes, arms-control analysts have called the facility a “plutonium bomb factory” because its production capacity exceeds what is needed for peaceful purposes.
Maybe Jim O’Neill will be the next (the 76th) U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, replacing Timothy Geithner.