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China-US controversy rarefies climate summit’s atmosphere

The planet’s two largest polluters accuse each other of not making progress on climate issues.

According to experts, this is a bad omen for the upcoming Climate Summit to be held in Cancun Mexico, which is supposed to repair the failure in Copenhagen.

Nevertheless, the picture did not look entirely bleak in Tianjin (China) during the last day of a week of negotiations, in the final stretch before the meeting to be in the Mexican city from November 19 to December 10.

During this weeks talks “we have come to a structured set of decisions that can mean an agreement in Cancun,” said a high UN climate change official, Christiana Figueres.

These are issues which had originally been included in the minutes of the Copenhagen agreement in late 2009 and could become operational, such as the Green Fund, a mechanism for technology transfer and to assist the most vulnerable countries to adapt to the impacts of climate change, and combating deforestation.

All these developments were highlighted by the UN, which wants to avoid by all means starting from scratch in Cancun, at the risk of having the whole process it has sponsored discredited, especially after the failure in Copenhagen.

For many delegations, more than 170 countries, and in the words of Figueres, Cancun also must “lay the foundations” of what would be a global agreement to fight climate change effectively.

The Copenhagen conference mission was to develop an international agreement to combat global warming to take over from the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

On the contrary, it resulted in a non-binding text, negotiated at the last minute by a small group of heads of state, who sets the goal to limit the rise in global temperatures to 2 degrees, but remained vague on how to do it.

For now, targets for greenhouse emission gases proposed by the 37 industrialized countries and developing countries, are far from keeping the temperature rise under 2 degrees.

This week in Tianjin, all long-term progress collided with the divergent proposals of the two main actors of negotiations, China and the United
States, which together account for 50 percent of global emissions.

Beijing has set a target of reducing carbon emissions per unit of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) between 40 to 45 percent between 2005 and 2020.

U.S. President, Barack Obama, pledged to reduce CO2 emissions in the United States 17 per cent by 2020 compared to its 2005 level.