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Tianjin climate talks sputter ahead of UN conference

By Juliet Eilperin
As the last round of preliminary talks for this year's United Nations climate talks wrapped up in Tianjin, China, this weekend, one thing is clear: The path toward a comprehensive climate pact remains as uncertain as ever.

Environmentalists issued a slew of dire pronouncements over the last 24 hours, suggesting international negotiators will have to work harder if they want a meaningful outcome when representatives from more than 190 countries gather in Cancun in late November and early December.

"This meeting exposed the deep structural issues of the UN climate negotiations, and it's unclear whether countries will be able to rise above these issues by Cancun," said Jennifer Haverkamp, the Environmental Defense Fund's managing director for international policy and negotiations. "Success in Cancun will be measured by adoption of a strong and balanced set of decisions, as well as a work plan for a way forward to South Africa in 2011."


U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres stands in front of a poster made by Green Peace before the opening of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Tianjin, China, Monday, Oct. 4, 2010. China, the world's biggest carbon emitter, opened the U.N. conference on climate change aimed at narrowing differences before a major year-end meeting in Mexico. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan) (Alexander F. Yuan - AP)

Kyle Ash, Greenpeace U.S. energy policy analyst, laid the blame at the feet of American diplomats, questioning why they won't embrace the idea that global emissions must peak by 2015 and why they haven't finalized legislation cutting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions even if they have taken some steps to cut America's carbon footprint.

"The U.S. posture on climate negotiations continues to reflect not only a lack of leadership and political will, but a hubris that is counterproductive to accomplishing anything," Ash said. "Efforts by the U.S. to suggest that China is responsible for the stalemate in substance reflect an arrogance that is an impediment to addressing the urgency of the issue informed by scientific consensus. Fixating on issues of monitoring greenhouse gas emissions in China is merely an effort to divert attention from its own responsibility to reduce emissions and commit to a fair portion of climate financing."

Other green activists, such as the Natural Resources Defense Council's international climate policy director, Jake Schmidt, provided a more upbeat assessment of Tianjin, suggesting negotiators can make significant progress if they note what's happening in countries around the world on climate, in both the private and public sector.

"Clean energy deployment is happening all around us, but negotiators seem not to notice the economic, environmental and leadership opportunities that this reality will produce," Schmidt wrote in his blog. "Climate change is happening as we speak, but given the pace of negotiations you would think that we have all the time we need to get the agreement just right before finalizing anything."

For Angela Ledford Anderson, program director for the U.S. Climate Action Network, the negotiations amounted to "a week of contrast and contradictions," she wrote in an e-mail. "Tianjin is obviously growing at an incredible pace. There are new buildings going up everywhere and massive highway construction underway. We saw and heard evidence that China is putting clean energy projects and policies in place to deal with air pollution and greenhouse gases, but it will clearly be a big challenge."

Anderson said that while the talks were going on, largely behind closed doors, "we ventured out under smoggy skies to tour a factory making batteries for electric cars and an advanced coal plant that could capture carbon dioxide and cut down on the smog. Both facilities have American companies as partners and the technologies will be put to use in the US, demonstrating both competition for the clean energy market and encouraging signs of cooperation."

But the cooperation evident in the real world wasn't there in the diplomatic one, she said. "The US, challenged by politics and the sluggish economy, is moving slowly to invest in clean energy and enact climate policies. That reality doesn't make China or other countries very confident about the U.S. ability to live up to its Copenhagen promises."

Anderson said, "There is a strong desire by all countries to use Cancun to finalize the issues where they are very close to agreement - on forest preservation and finance for adaptation and emissions reducing technology in developing countries. They made progress on those issues this week, but they didn't get very far on the core climate issue - emissions reductions.

The talks were supposed to set the stage for Cancun to produce the outlines of an eventual climate agreement. They moved some of the building blocks forward in Tianjin, but they are still stumbling over the 'cornerstone' of emissions goals and accountability," she said.

"There was a lot of tough talk in Tianjin, but agreement in Cancun will require some greater assurances that the U.S. has a plan of action for meeting its Copenhagen commitments."

In other words, stay tuned to see if Cancun produces some modest steps forward or collapses in a massive round of recriminations.

By Juliet Eilperin  | October 11, 2010; 11:04 AM ET
 
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Comments

Global warming is the biggest hoax ever perpetrated on mankind. It is a sharing the wealth scheme where nations pour money into the coffers of a few individuals and companies and receive nothing in return but green promises.

Posted by: mike85 | October 11, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Obama is all "ixna on the imatecla" because every time he mentions carbon taxes and global warming, the democrats drop 1 or 2 points in the polls.

Posted by: Skeptic1 | October 11, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Copenhagen last time, Cancun this time. Yes, yes, I REALLY believe this is all about saving the planet.

What a complete and utter farce. Just like the Post coverage.

Posted by: silencedogoodreturns | October 11, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

"WASHINGTON—Chris Miller nearly doubled his $3,500 stock investment in a renewable-energy firm in 2008. It was a perfectly legal bet, but he's no ordinary investor.

Mr. Miller is the top energy-policy adviser to Nevada Democrat and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who helped pass legislation that wound up benefiting the firm."
------------------------------------------

If ANYONE is still under the delusion that this is about anything BUT a HUGE money scam I suggest you lower your intake of mind altering drugs immediately.

Posted by: illogicbuster | October 11, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Hey MIKE85 - its 90 degrees here in Virginia on October 11th 2010. I guess this 20 degree above average heat wave is global cooling? Take your non scientific Rush Limbaugh sucking lips off of the cockz of Big Oil and get a life.

Posted by: KevinDunne | October 11, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

People who know about materials and materials science see quite a future for carbon. "Post Carbon" is not the phrase I would use. Just as we have had an "Iron Age" I can see a "Carbon Age" with diamond like carbo9n and carbon films protecting our metal surfaces and giving us products that we do not toss away when they wear out. This could be a significant change in out way of doing things.

Post Carbon?

I doubt it.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | October 11, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

"The US, challenged by politics and the sluggish economy, is moving slowly to invest in clean energy and enact climate policies. That reality doesn't make China or other countries very confident about the U.S. ability to live up to its Copenhagen promises."

Anderson said, "There is a strong desire by all countries to use Cancun to finalize the issues where they are very close to agreement - on forest preservation and finance for adaptation and emissions reducing technology in developing countries.

As an environmentalist, I support international efforts to prevent deforestation. This, unfortunately, is only half of the problem. I observed this summer in Guatemala, that the vast majority of people are still using wood stoves to cook their meals.

As long as the poor are cutting down trees to use for fire wood, international efforts to prevent deforestation is a waste of money. A pallor of smoke hangs over towns and villages all over Guatemala at breakfast and supper time. I imagine the same thing is true in poor nations all over the world.

Posted by: alance | October 11, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

"The US, challenged by politics and the sluggish economy, is moving slowly to invest in clean energy and enact climate policies. That reality doesn't make China or other countries very confident about the U.S. ability to live up to its Copenhagen promises."

Anderson said, "There is a strong desire by all countries to use Cancun to finalize the issues where they are very close to agreement - on forest preservation and finance for adaptation and emissions reducing technology in developing countries.

As an environmentalist, I support international efforts to prevent deforestation. This, unfortunately, is only half of the problem. I observed this summer in Guatemala, that the vast majority of people are still using wood stoves to cook their meals.

As long as the poor are cutting down trees to use for fire wood, international efforts to prevent deforestation is a waste of money. A pallor of smoke hangs over towns and villages all over Guatemala at breakfast and supper time. I imagine the same thing is true in poor nations all over the world.

Posted by: alance | October 11, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Whether the planet is warming is irrelevant to the need to get off fossil fuels.
The economic, geopolitical and environmental benefits will kick in even without a CO2 benefit. Less pollution, less military deployments, energy dollars stay at home.

- Balkingpoints / www

Posted by: RField7 | October 11, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

So the conference is in Cancun.....WTF?? Was Monaco booked? What about Ibiza or Paris? What about Fiji? (oh, the greens already had a conference there). Rio? Damn, did that too. You cant expect us elites to fly our jets into Cancun. With the tropical humidity, the lobster will surely spoil and the Dom Perignon will be very difficult to keep at the optimum temp. How droll.

Posted by: j751 | October 11, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Until environmentalists agree, nothing will happen. Environmentalists will never agree as what one group likes another group dislikes. Too much of the "data" has been "lost" to provide proper peer review on the "work done". The "data" has been "lost" because it does not support the desired result.

Posted by: gmclain | October 11, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

100 years from now when climate is actually understood people will laugh at the arrogance of the clowns who thought they knew it all and felt justified in taking over the world's economy to conform to their ridiculous theories.

"Believe it or not," teachers will tell their students, "this is what some people actually thought about the climate. Kind of like what I told you last week about how doctors used to use leeches."

Posted by: drjcarlucci | October 11, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

I see that the oil-soaked, Faux News-a-tron climate disinformers are out in full force today. What, no racist Teabagger events to attend today? You guys obviously know nothing about science, so please get out of the way, go back to your big-screen TVs and Medicare-funded carts for invalids, and let the adults handle this one.

Posted by: Bugs222 | October 11, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Amazing that there are still a few far left redistribution of wealth fools still pushing this HOAX!!!!! You have been exposed many times.

Maybe you can go back to Fat Al Gore's Ozone hole will fry us hoax!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Jimbo77 | October 11, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Eilperin, write about something else. This has all the value of a Confederate Dollar. Climategate disgraced all those Gorebal Whining fanatics. Time to move on.

Posted by: wapocensorsbite | October 11, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

I see that the oil-soaked, Faux News-a-tron climate disinformers are out in full force today. What, no racist Teabagger events to attend today? You guys obviously know nothing about science, so please get out of the way, go back to your big-screen TVs and Medicare-funded carts for invalids, and let the adults handle this one.

Posted by: Bugs222 | October 11, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse
*******
*******
My, my. Aren't we a tad prejudiced by automatically dealing the race card from the bottom of a deck of race cards by your statement of "racist Teabagger events".

Science. Let's see. Your Lord and master Albore when he made a fool of himself on the cherry picker in his docuganda, "The Doctored Truth", "forgot" to tell you that on HIS graph that temperature rises 800 years BEFORE CO2 levels rise. The effect rises BEFORE the cause. Sounds like the tail waggging the dog to me.

Then there's the claim of runaway at a certain concentration. Let's look at analogs in nature, like the insulation in your house. If you double the thickness of insulation, you get a log increase in insulation. The effect, at best, is logrithmically asymptotic. No hockey stick.

Water is another good analog. Pure water is an insulator, electrically. Add a little salt, conductivity jumps. Add 10x salt, there is a log increase in conductivity.

Back to water, this time, vapor. It's 10x the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, and behaves the same. You can talk CO2 all you want. Water trumps it.

Then there is the Albore thing that "It's hotter than it's EVER BEEN." Really? Then why are there coral islands 20 feet above sea level world wide? The geological evidence is overwhelming that the oceans were once 20 feet higher than they are today. Things that make you go "Hmm!"

Then there is the ice age glaciers that were 1 mile thick. The glaciation process lowered the seas worldwide by 300 feet. Now when I look at those glaciers, I don't see cold, I see heat. Lots and lots of heat. The Arctic must have become very warm, much warmer than it is today, to increase the evaporation rate such that the oceans worldwide were lowered by 300 feet. To me, a mile thick layer of ice across N. America and Eurasia represents massive amounts of potential energy. And to become potential energy, it must have at one time had kinetic energy. Kinetic energy equals heat. Lots and lots of heat, enough to move that much water uphill. What happened before and WILL happen again is that the Earth become so warm that the Arctic become hot, and the relief valve is the higher evaporation rate which precipitates on the land as snow. Literally, Global Warming (which has happened on multiple occasions over the past million years) literally precipitates an ice age. Cold weather doesn't cause the ice ages. The precipitation of snow due to global warming eventually cools the planet.

Outta space.

VOTE REPUBLICAN!!!

Posted by: wapocensorsbite | October 11, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Hey MIKE85 - its 90 degrees here in Virginia on October 11th 2010. I guess this 20 degree above average heat wave is global cooling? Take your non scientific Rush Limbaugh sucking lips off of the cockz of Big Oil and get a life.

Posted by: KevinDunne | October 11, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

*****************
*****************
1 data point isn't a long term trend!!!

Posted by: wapocensorsbite | October 11, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Science shows that almost all life on Earth is eliminated every 26 million years as the sun bobbs to its apogee and perigee. So other than control freaks, doing anything about climate change is meaningless in the big scheme of things. Turn your attention to guessing the answer to the final, nightly puzzle on Wheel of Fortune; it's less a waste of your time.

Posted by: llrllr | October 11, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

They better pray Harry Reide can ram through the energy bill during the lame duck session.

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Posted by: 1561705755 | October 11, 2010 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Significant progress has already been made, and continues. There are massive subsidies for windmills that make no difference at all in CO2 emissions and do not reduce the use of fossil fuels at all. It is progress because the companies that make and operate the windmills are making money, and the governments/politicians who support this are taking their share of increased electrical bills. Windmills produce only a few hours a day in most places, but they get paid several times the cost of electricity from coal fired power plants. Joe sucker who voted for this pays the bill.

Progress has been made in creating alcohol from corn sugar. Progress is measured in the money paid to corn farmers to grow the corn, and companies that produce and sell the alcohol. Joe sucker who voted for this is paying part of the bill. People all over the world are paying for part of this progress in higher food prices because corn is being wasted on this nonsense. In many parts of the world, even a small increase in food prices means kids and their parents go hungry.

CAGW promoters (warmists, green people, environmentalists) apparently feel no obligation to those who suffer from their efforts. Big money made by people like Al Gore goes into new beach estates that use lots of non-alternative power. Poor people probably enjoy being hungry and cold because they know that they are helping save the world when they can no longer afford to buy food and keep warm.

Posted by: AGWsceptic99 | October 11, 2010 11:56 PM | Report abuse

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