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CLIMATE SCIENCE
EU, US rule out climate funding pledges in Doha
by Staff Writers
Doha (AFP) Dec 5, 2012


Japan eyes reduced emission cut target: official
Tokyo (AFP) Dec 5, 2012 - Japan may backpedal on its pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions by a quarter, an official said Wednesday, dealing a further blow to already deadlocked global warming talks in Doha.

Tokyo in 2009 promised it would slash its planet-warming emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels by the start of next decade -- provided other major polluters such as China and the United States also make sharp reductions.

The target was one of the most ambitious of any industrialised country and won plaudits from environmentalists.

But officials say with a huge rise in the use of fossil fuels since the nuclear disaster at Fukushima put Tokyo's atomic energy programme on hold, the pledge will be difficult to fulfil.

"Japan is discussing how to achieve its pledge of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020, including the possibility of revising it," Shuichiro Niihara, an official at Japan's environment ministry, told AFP.

"The goal was set before the nuclear accident last year, but even with nuclear power generation, it was going to be very difficult to realise," he said.

The earthquake and tsunami of March 2011 sent reactors at the Fukushima nuclear plant into meltdown and generated widespread distrust of a technology previously used to provide around a third of Japan's electricity.

Japan's compulsory goal of cutting emissions by six percent by 2012 is however likely to be reached, said Niihara.

Average emissions between 2008 and 2010 were 10.9 percent lower -- if carbon trades with developing countries and forest sinks are taken into consideration.

Carbon trading is a system in which caps are put on emissions from a company, an industry or a country. Unused pollution allowances can be sold to those wishing to exceed their allocation.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged negotiators at climate talks in Doha on Tuesday to put aside their quarrels and act with urgency to find the money and agree on mechanisms to tackle the global warming "crisis".

Despite more than a week of late-night efforts, parties remain in disagreement over the details of extending the life of the Kyoto Protocol on curbing Earth-warming greenhouse gas emissions, and funding Third World climate projects.

In Doha, Japan is pressing to have the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) carbon trading scheme incorporated into the counting system for measurements from 2013 onwards, the official said.

The European Union and United States refused at UN talks in Doha on Wednesday to commit to concrete climate funding for poor nations as yet another report warned of dire global warming consequences within decades.

As pledges from individual countries started to trickle in, the EU said tight finances prevented it taking on near-term commitments as a bloc, while Washington insisted it was already "doing what we agreed to do."

But developing countries, who say they need at least another $60 billion (46 billion euros) from now to 2015 to deal with climate change-induced droughts, floods, rising seas and storms, demanded to see new numbers.

"We want to see finance on the table as we leave here," said Pa Ousman Jarju, a negotiator for Gambia, representing the Least Developed Countries group.

The talks in the capital of Qatar are meant to extend the life of the Kyoto Protocol, the world's only binding pact on curbing Earth-warming greenhouse gas emissions.

Developed nations are also being asked to show how they intend to keep a promise to raise funding for the developing world's climate mitigation plans to $100 billion per year by 2020 -- up from a total of $30 billion in 2010-2012.

European Union climate negotiator Pete Betts told journalists that "these are tough financial times in Europe."

As a bloc, "we, as other developed countries, are not going to be in a position at this meeting to agree any kind of target for 2015."

Britain said Tuesday it would spend about 1.8 billion pounds (2.2 billion euros/$2.9 billion) on international climate projects over the next three years -- though critics said most of this was not "new" money.

On Wednesday, Germany announced it would add 400 million euros to the global climate purse in 2013 and 2014 on top of a total 2.8 billion euros already earmarked.

United States negotiator Jonathan Pershing, however, said: "The question of whether there is a new commitment that gets announced here is not the right question.

"The current discussions obligated us to look at a 2020 number. That's what we agreed to do. They committed us as a downpayment in good faith to look at a $30-billion collective effort, and we have done more than that.

"In that sense I think we are doing what we agreed to do and what we've committed to do," he said.

Ousman retorted this was "a misinterpretation of things."

"Our understanding is that it's per year and that (the funding) should start now... and we want figures on the table."

Agreement on financing and a followup period for the Kyoto Protocol, whose first leg runs out on December 31, is expected to smooth the way to a new, universal climate pact that must be drafted by 2015 and come into effect by 2020.

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon urged negotiators on Tuesday to put aside their differences in tackling the mounting global warming "crisis".

But delegates said the going was tough with only two days to the meeting's scheduled close on Friday.

"The Doha caravan is stuck in a sandstorm," lamented Ronny Jumeau, negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States, a grouping of 43 countries most at risk from global warming-induced sea level rise.

Observers complained of a disquieting lack of urgency, and the NGO Christian Aid, which claims to represent some of the world's poorest communities said: "The baby is close to being born but we are in danger of aborting it just as the labour begins."

A World Bank report warned Wednesday that global warming will have dire consequences for the Middle East and North Africa, with even hotter and drier conditions devastating everything from agriculture to tourism.

On current trends, average temperatures in Arab countries are likely to rise by as three degrees Celsius (5.4 Fahrenheit) by 2050, rainfall will become even more unreliable and flash floods more frequent.

The UN is targeting a manageable warming limit of two degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels, but scientists say Earth may well be on a path to double that.

Ministers held a side-meeting in Doha on Wednesday to brainstorm novel ways of achieving urgently-needed greenhouse gas emission cuts pending the 2020 deal -- including through phasing out fossil fuel subsidies.

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