Climate Negotiations: Do We Need a Universal Treaty?

United Nations climate change talks in Germany this weekend were again marked by bitter divisions between rich and poor nations, as it took negotiators three days to agree to hold two additional meetings later this year.

The extra sessions, to be held in the second half of 2010, are intended to prepare for the next annual meeting of environmental ministers in Cancun, Mexico, from November 29 to December 10.

However, the negotiating climate has not changed since the close of the Copenhagen Summit, which failed to reach a binding agreement on a new treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to changing climates. The resulting Copenhagen Accord was more a statement of political will, than a framework for collaborative action.

Nonetheless, the United States has decided to play hardball with countries that oppose the Copenhagen Accord, according to a Washington Post story. The US State Department plans to deny $5.5 million in climate change funding previously set aside for Bolivia and Ecuador–two countries that have stated they will not sign on to the Accord.

Some environmental groups said that less focus on a sweeping international treaty might be a good thing. "We can’t afford only to keep coming back year after year, we have to explore other options," Annie Petsonk, of the Environmental Defense Fund, told Reuters. 

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