Plodding climate talks stepping up to higher level
The slow-moving U.N. talks on combating global warming took a step forward Saturday with revised proposals for a $100 billion-a-year climate aid fund and other issues for debate by the world's environment ministers this week.
Despite that advance, the chairwoman of key closed-door negotiations warned the open conference that obstacles remain to what delegates hope will be a package of decisions next Friday on financial and other side matters under the U.N. climate treaty.
"Progress has been made in some areas," Zimbabwe's Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe said. But she said the talks were "going backwards" on important issues. "We need to redouble our efforts." 
Environment ministers began flying in Saturday for the final days of the annual two-week climate conference, hoping to put new life in the U.N. talks. 
... Some parties, for example, want the world to reduce emissions of global warming gases so that temperatures don't rise more than 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) above preindustrial levels, beyond which scientists say serious damage from climate change would set in. Others want to aim even lower, at 1.5 C (2.7 F) above preindustrial levels - a position favored by island states and others most threatened by warming's impacts, such as sea-level rise. 
The Zimbabwean's revised text eliminated the 1.5-degree option, drawing an immediate protest from the Bolivian delegation at Saturday's open meeting, a sign of the contentiousness sure to mark the coming days.
... At last year's climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, richer nations promised $100 billion a year by 2020 to help poorer nations reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change by, for example, building coastline protection and shifting crops to cope with new precipitation patterns. 
... Firmly establishing a green fund at Cancun is a priority for developing-world delegations, who generally want a U.N. body overseeing disbursement of climate funds, rather than, for example, the World Bank, which is controlled by developed nations. 
-  -- Yo, Charles. If you're going to get a quote from someone, I would suggest you consider getting it from someone not representing an authoritarian regime whose economy is such a basket case that its residents have often been reduced to eating cow dung to survive.
-  -- Do I dare ask how these "environmental ministers" flew in? Commercial or private jet? What's the carbon footprint of a privately-jetted passenger compared to someone who flies commercial? And where is Webex when we need it?
-  -- Gosh, where to begin? Let's leave it at this: The earth isn't warming, and the seas aren't rising. Though there is no shortage of competition, Christopher Booker characterizes the latter as "the greatest lie ever told."
-  -- Sorry, Charles. Last year in Copenhagen, "richer nations" promised nothing meaningful. What about "Non-binding accord" (from the UK Guardian, no less) don't you understand?
-  -- I know it's way too much to ask, but Hanley should have reminded readers of how well the last major "U.N. body overseeing disbursement" of funds performed. That would be Oil for Food, where untold billions (this CFR report claims that it's about $12 billion) disappeared down an unaccountable rat hole. The idea that at U.N. fund for climate change would be any different is utterly lacking in evidentiary support.
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