Obama Administration Proposes Text for New Global Warming Treaty That Would Impose Stricter Rules On U.S. Than On China Or Saudi Arabia
May 29, 2009 6 Comments ›› Erik Wong
By Penny Starr, Senior Staff Writer
The U.S. State Department has provided the United Nations with proposed text for a new global warming treaty that would require the United States to comply with stricter carbon emissions standards than most other countries in the world–including, for example, China and Saudi Arabia–and that anticipates that U.S. taxpayers will provide foreign aid to support efforts to control carbon emissions in developing nations.
The text, obtained by CNSNews.com, was submitted in early May to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which is developing a new international global warming treaty that is expected to be finalized at an international conference to be held in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December.
The treaty will reduce carbon emissions from the U.S. and other “developed” countries while allowing “developing” countries–which include the world’s largest polluter, China, and oil-rich nations such as the United Arab Emirates–to avoid equal restrictions.
Under the UNFCCC, only 40 of the world’s nations are considered developed countries, while the remainder are considered developing countries. The “developing” countries include not only the Communist People’s Republic of China and the United Arab Emirates, but also other oil-rich states in the Persian Gulf, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Iran. Oil-rich Venezuela is also considered a developing nation.
The proposed text reveals the administration’s intention to sign a treaty that will reduce U.S. carbon emissions while considering the “common but differentiated responsibilities” of “developing nations” where the cost and implementation of emission restrictions allegedly would limit development or harm “economies in transition.”
“The United States supports a Copenhagen agreed outcome that recognizes the magnitude and seriousness of what science demands, reflects both common and differentiated elements, is pragmatic, and recognizes the diversity of countriesâ€™ circumstances and opportunities so as to invite a variety of approaches and encourage participation,” the report said in its introductory remarks.
Those remarks also referred to legislation currently before the U.S. Congress that would put a cap-and-trade system in place. Cap and trade is essentially a carbon-emission tax on U.S. companies. It creates a new market where companies may buy and sell carbon allowances.
“The United States is committed to reaching a strong international agreement in Copenhagen based on both the robust targets and ambitious actions that will be embodied in U.S. domestic law and on the premise that the agreement will reflect the important national actions of all countries with significant emissions profiles to contain their respective emissions,” the report said.
The U.S. language supposes that there will be three levels of countries that are signatories to the treaty–developed countries, and two tiers of developing countries.
The draft says that the treaty should recognize â€œthat the levels of ambition expected of Parties will necessarily evolve over time as their respective national circumstances and respective capabilities change.â€
Specifically, developed countries are expected to meet higher standards than developing countries.
â€œWith respect to developing country Parties whose national circumstances reflect greater responsibility or capability,â€ says the draft, â€œâ€¦ Each such Party shall formulate and submit a low-carbon strategy for long-term net emissions reductions by 2050, consistent with the levels of ambition needed to contribute to meeting the objective of the Convention.â€
Another set of developing countries will only need to achieve whatever standard is deemed â€œconsistent with their capacity.â€
â€œOther developing country Parties should implement nationally appropriate mitigation actions and develop low-carbon strategies, consistent with their capacity,â€ says the text.
The text additionally indicates that the U.S. expects developed countries to provide aid to developing countries to control carbon emissions, and cryptically says that the “private sector” will also be expected to provide funding for this purpose.
“With respect to funding, the U.S. is keenly aware of the need for a dramatic increase in the flow of resources available to developing countries to catalyze both mitigation and adaptation actions at a scale that will be necessary to address the climate challenge,” the report said.
“Resources will need to flow a wide variety of sources, including, for example, public sources in developed and developing countries, private investment, and–in the case of mitigation–the carbon market,” the report said.
“The private sector is expected to be a much larger source of funding than the public sector, making it critical that policies in both developed and developing countries promote the flow of such funding,â€ the report added.
Former President Bill Clinton receives a temporary borrowing bill from then-White House staff secretary Todd Stern. Stern was named by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the State Department’s special envoy on climate change and he will represent the U.S. at the upcoming climate change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark in December. (AP Photo)
“Recognizing that climate change poses a profound threat to sustainable development, that poor developing countries are particularly vulnerable to climate change and already suffering adverse impacts, the Parties agree on the need for an overarching policy framework that sets forth common goals and areas of action and identifies necessary resources for enabling actions,” the report said.
Aside from shouldering most of the billions of dollars it will cost to implement the treaty, “developed” nations such as the United States also would be required to provide the technology to “developing” nations.
The text also says that the “alleviation of poverty is an essential factor in addressing the impacts of climate change.”
The climate change conference in Copenhagen in December will build on the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, which the Bush administration opposed because it would have allowed countries like China and India to continue polluting while legally binding the United States and other industrialized nations to strict emissions controls and reductions.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appointed Todd Stern–who represented the U.S. under the Clinton administration in Kyoto, Japan–as the department’s special envoy for climate change.
Stern led the effort to craft the proposed text sent to the United Nations and has been attending climate talks leading up to Copenhagen. He will be attending the next scheduled summit, which is set for June 1-12 in Bonn, Germany.
As CNSNews.com reported earlier, some of the countries named by the Union of Concerned Scientists as the Top 20 polluters in the world are considered “developing” by the UNFCCC, including China (No. 1), India, (No. 4), South Korea (No. 9), Mexico (No. 13) and Saudi Arabia (No. 14).
The proposal the U.S. provided to the Secretariat of the UNFCCC is not complete, according to the State Department, and additional information will be provided to the UNFCCC leading up to December’s conference in Copenhagen.