Op-ed: U.S. must show leadership at climate talks

Will the world get it together on climate change?

Global warming crisis must be met with resolve and collaboration

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — With Arctic ice on the brink of near-total meltdown, super storms brewing in the oceans and after a summer of heatwaves and drought, about 17,000 delegates start meeting this week in Doha, Qatar to try and make some progress on the UN’s annual climate talks.

The backdrop for this year’s talks are continued dire warnings from scientists, who are saying that, if we can’t cap emissions by 2020, the world could be headed for runaway warming, with temperatures not seen on Earth for millions of years and almost unimaginable consequences for all life on Earth.

This is not a joke or some sort of purely academic debate. It could literally be a matter of life and death, but even though there’s a lot at stake, expectations aren’t very high for COP 18. The talks have become a frustrating exercise in futility, as politics and economics continually push the existential question of global warming into the back seat. What’s lacking most of all is clear leadership from the world’s most influential countries, including the USA. Continue reading

Report: UN climate talks are too big and unwieldy

Research recommends capping delegate numbers

October 2012 brought above average temperatures to most of the globe. Graphic courtesy NASA.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Large delegations from rich countries and a cumbersome decision-making process are hindering progress at the United Nations’ annual climate talks, according to research published last week by University of East Anglia and the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.

The report was timed to precede the 18th UN Climate Change Summit, which starts Nov. 26 in Doha, Qatar. The findings suggest that delegations from some countries have increased in size over the years, while others have decreased, limiting poor countries’ negotiating power and making their participation less effective.

“The UN must recognize that these antiquated structures serve to constrain rather than compel co-operation on international climate policy,” said Dr. Helke Schroeder, with the University of East Anglia’s School of International Development. “The time is long overdue for changes to institutions and structures that do not support decision-making and agreements.”

The researchers recommend that countries consider capping delegation numbers at a level that allows broad representation across government departments and sectors of society, while maintaining a manageable overall size. Continue reading

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