UN Negotiations Underway in Tianjin, China

UN Negotiations Underway in Tianjin, China

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Climate negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change are taking place October 4-9, 2010, in Tianjin, China. Friends of the Earth U.S.’s Karen Orenstein and Nick Berning are participating in this week’s negotiations as part of the Friends of the Earth International delegation. (For more information about climate negotiations as a whole, and not just what’s happening this week in Tianjin, visit /international-work/international-climate-negotiations.)

Check here to see daily updates about the meeting in Tianjin as it progresses.

UPDATE 7 — OCTOBER 7, 2010 — 7:03 p.m.

South China Morning Post article, “Beijing ups the stakes on climate change,” reports on China’s strategic role in Tianjin. While China works to reduce emissions and lead on climate change, the U.S. remains inactive:

“Beijing upped the ante in the last major negotiations ahead of the United Nations climate summit in Mexico, increasing pressure on Washington and drumming up support from developing-nation allies.

China’s top climate official lashed out yesterday at the lack of political will among rich nations to break the impasse in climate talks, and dismissed US demands on emission caps and transparency as absurd.”

Click here to subscribe and view the full article.

UPDATE 6 — OCTOBER 6, 2010 — 7:24 p.m.

Karen speaking at press conferenceKaren spoke at a Friends of the Earth International press conference today about the need for the U.S. to improve its negotiating position.

One of Karen’s specific calls was for the U.S. to support the establishment of a global climate fund designed within the UNFCCC, rather than by a third party like the World Bank, at the upcoming climate summit in Cancun in December. The U.S. is threatening to block forward movement on the fund in order to unfairly extract concessions from developing countries. The global climate fund would receive contributions from rich nations and use them in ways that would help poor nations prepare for and cope with climate change impacts, as well as develop clean energy economies. Karen announced that this call was echoed in a letter that several prominent members of Congress sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton yesterday, and provided the letter to journalists who attended the press conference. You can view the letter here.

Read more about how the talks are going:

Reuters: Climate talks struggle as U.S., China face off

Guardian: China and U.S. clash at climate talks

AP: Limited Progress in climate talks in China

South China Morning Post: Bejing ups the stakes on climate change

UPDATE 5 — OCTOBER 5, 2010 — 7:08 p.m.

Karen was just interviewed on camera by Adam at OneClimate.net about the role the U.S. is playing in the negotiations, as well as about her area of policy expertise — climate finance (how to deliver funding to the world’s poorest countries and most vulnerable communities so they can transition to clean energy and cope with the impacts of this climate crisis that they played almost no part in causing). Check out her interview here.

UPDATE 4 — OCTOBER 5, 2010 — 4:38 p.m.

A few minutes ago, we emerged from a packed, no-standing-room-left panel discussion about the downsides of carbon trading, and better ways to reduce emissions and deliver assistance to developing nations.

The discussion, a formal side event at the UNFCCC conference, was organized by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade policy, and in addition to Nick and Karen, panelists included Shefali Sharma and Jim Harkness of IATP, as well as Nellie, a delegate representing Bolivia in the negotiations.

Nick presented the work of our colleague Michelle Chan, who has authored several reports about carbon trading including Ten Ways to Game the Carbon Market and Subprime Carbon? Michelle has found that carbon fraudsters and scoundrels are using all sorts of schemes to cheat in the carbon markets, including selling fake carbon offset credits, phishing, Ponzi schemes, and bribery.

Karen’s discussion focused on more desirable ways funds can be raised from developed countries to support climate solutions in developing countries. Her main message was that public sources of funding are far better than carbon markets. A few of the ideas she discussed were assessed contributions (in the U.S.’s case, this would mean Congress directly provides our country’s fair share of funding through the national budget), to ending fossil fuel subsidies (this could raise upwards of $70 billion a year — and why are we subsidizing dirty fossil fuels anyway?), to a financial transaction tax (an infinitesimal fee levied on speculative transactions by large corporations that could also generate billions). Rep. Pete Stark has a bill pending in Congress that would implement this third idea.

UPDATE 3 — OCTOBER 5, 2010 — 11:29 a.m.

The patience of the world is wearing thin; that’s the feeling in the air towards the U.S. and climate (in)action at the UN climate negotiations here in Tianjin, China. Top U.S. climate negotiator Jonathan Pershing, who briefed NGOs today, is sounding more and more as if he’s playing defense — trying to convince a rightfully skeptical world that the U.S. will even meet its grossly inadequate and inequitable greenhouse gas reduction pledge of 3-4 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. China’s top climate negotiator summed it up nicely, “Of course the United States has not taken concrete actions, but the rest of us cannot use that as an excuse to say, ‘America is not doing anything, then we will not do anything.’ … We can’t wait for America.”

UPDATE 2 — OCTOBER 4, 2010 — 4:33 p.m.

KarenKaren delivered an address to the full convention — a packed plenary room, with more than a thousand delegates and observers — early this afternoon. You can read the text of her remarks, in which she called for real progress to take place in Tianjin, here. And you can see more photos of Karen delivering her address on Friends of the Earth’s Flickr page.

UPDATE 1 — OCTOBER 4, 2010 — 11:33 a.m.

We have arrived at the Meijang Convention and Exhibition Center in Tianjin, China’s third-largest city. Friends of the Earth’s overarching objective in the negotiations is to bring countries together behind a strong and just international response to the climate crisis. Key goals we hope to achieve in Tianjin are:

  • Protecting the Kyoto Protocol — the only legally binding international treaty that contains requirements for climate pollution reductions by developing countries — from attempts to replace it with a weaker framework.
  • Supporting the establishment of a fair and effective mechanism under full UNFCCC control for delivering funding for climate solutions to developing nations. The World Bank — a major climate polluter with heavy coal investments and a poor human rights record — must have no role.
  • Calling attention to the failures of carbon markets and carbon offset loopholes in an effort to encourage negotiators to use other approaches, such as binding caps without offsets, to reduce pollution.

For more information about what we expect some of the key stories emerging from Tianjin to be, please see this memo by Karen: /new-storylines-emerging-climate-negotiations.