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UN Climate Change Talks Face Obstacles

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said Tuesday that rich countries will have to pledge more than the $100 billion per year currently on the table if negotiations on a climate change treaty are to be successful at the United Nations Climate Change Conference next month in Copenhagen. He also announced that he will meet with all US Senators involved in negotiations over the pending “Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act” (see PDF) next week, the Guardian reports.

The Copenhagen summit is intended to build on the 1997 Kyoto protocol, in which 37 industrial nations agreed to reduce heat-raising gas emissions by 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012, according to the Associated Press. The US was the only industrialized nation that didn’t sign the Kyoto protocol. If the US Senate doesn’t pass the energy and climate bill, US negotiators in Copenhagen will likely have little power to join an effective climate change treaty. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also spoken to both houses in the US Congress urging them to signal their commitment to the Copenhagen Conference, reported the Digital Journal.

African countries boycotted preliminary talks on a potential treaty because they claim that industrial nations have not set their carbon-cutting targets high enough to effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Associated Press. Studies have shown that African nations will suffer the most from climate change, but are the least responsible for causing it.

Women, who make up about 65 percent of the world’s poor, will also be disproportionately affected by climate change, according to a post on Feministing Community. As water becomes more scarce, girls will have to forgo school to collect water, and women “climate refugees” will become more vulnerable as they are forced to leave their homes due to climate change.

The Secretary General said, “Copenhagen will be a very important milestone. At the same time, realistically speaking, we may not be able to agree to all the words…We need at this time the political will – if there is a political will, there is a way we can come to a binding agreement in Copenhagen,” the Associated Press reports.

Sources:

The Guardian 11/3/09; Associated Press 11/3/09; Feministing 11/2/09; Digital Journal 11/3/09

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