The general tone was deep disappointment as the COP-6 climate change negotiations closed unresolved. Unfortunately, 183 governments need more than two weeks to settle how the world will contend with such a complex issue. The next round of negotiations will continue in spring 2001 – in the meantime, the world keeps heating up. Much of the criticism focuses on U.S. intransigence – its insistence on using carbon sinks as a primary method to reduce emissions, rather than direct reductions. It has been shown over and over again that emission reductions are well within our means through simple measures such as energy efficiency standards. But, as Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change points out, it took about 10 years to pass today’s international trade rules and the U.S. Clean Air Act. Many observers indicate that much of the groundwork as been laid to settle the outstanding issues – sinks, supplementarity, compliance, and funding – in the next round of talks.
Before the talks began, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change distributed a draft of the first full-scale update of the state of climate change since 1995. The report takes a stronger stand now on the cause of climate change: “Man-made gases have contributed substantially to the observed warming over the last 50 years.” Research shows that without significant emission reduction, the planet’s average surface temperatures will likely rise between 2.7 and 11 degrees Fahrenheit, as opposed to 1.8 to 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit as previously predicted. During COP-6, Andrew Dlugolecki of CGNU, the UK’s largest insurance group, and a top five European life insurer, warned that property damage due to global warming could bankrupt the world by 2065. “Property damage is rising very rapidly, at something like 10 percent a year … and once this thing really begins to happen, it will accelerate extremely rapidly,” he warned.
For details, visit Earth Negotiations Bulletin or United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change