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US sets clean-energy trade mission to China
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Dec 08, 2014

High-level reinforcement for final climate push
Lima (AFP) Dec 08, 2014 - Ministers and the UN chief fly into Lima this week to bolster negotiators in a final push for consensus on key elements of a world pact to curb potentially disastrous global warming.

With a week of talks gone, and five days left, parties remain deeply divided on key aspects of the deal they have committed to signing in Paris in December 2015, to take effect in 2020.

As Typhoon Hagupit pummelled the eastern Philippines over the weekend, negotiators were reminded of the "planetary emergency" looming.

"Essentially, if we continue as we are, we may drastically rewrite the relationship between humans and the planet, potentially, leading to the mass migration of perhaps hundreds of millions or billions of people," climate economist Nicholas Stern warned in a new report.

"History tells us this could result in long and sustained conflict. These are the stakes we are playing for."

The UN has set a target of curbing average global warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels.

The goal must be met by deep cuts in soaring emissions of greenhouse gases -- requiring a costly shift from cheap and abundant fossil fuels to less-polluting energy sources.

NGOs, activists and scientists observing the talks in Lima on sharing out the emissions budget, said the pace was too slow.

"Unfortunately, the negotiators... seem to have forgotten that they are here to solve a planetary emergency," said Tasneem Essop of green group WWF.

Voltaire Alferez of the Philippines NGO Aksyon Klima added: "As we speak, people are paying for our leaders' lethargy with their lives and livelihoods."

The Lima talks have two main tasks: drafting a negotiating outline for the Paris deal, and agreeing on the format of carbon-curbing pledges that nations have committed to submit from the first quarter of next year.

But participants do not see eye to eye on some of the very basics: Will the pledges be legally binding on rich and poor nations alike? Must rich nations commit in writing to financial support for climate adaptation in the developing world? Will pledges to be assessed for adequacy?

"None of this has been settled," French negotiator Laurence Tubiana told AFP, adding that this was "normal" in climate diplomacy -- known for a poker-like approach with nations holding out until the very last.

After a free day, negotiators get back to work on Monday, hoping the arrival Tuesday of ministers and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will provide a momentum boost.

- Red lines -

Ban, who hosted a leaders' summit in New York in September that yielded vows of renewed political commitment, will open the "high-level segment" of the talks Tuesday and meet ministers separately.

Rich nations, including the United States, want the deal to focus on mitigation -- meaning emissions curbs -- but poor, developing and small island states at high risk of climate change-induced sea-level rise, demand guarantees of global support for adaptation to climate risk and compensation for unavoidable loss and damage.

"From a developing country perspective... our red line is that the post-2020 agreement has to deal with adaptation," South African negotiator Judy Beaumont said.

Another sticking point is assessing national pledges and their global impact on the global warming curbs, with emissions giant China strongly opposed.

Ministers are scheduled to meet Tuesday on the other divisive issue: climate finance for developing nations.

Scientists say the world is on target for four degrees Celsius, or more, with a resulting increase in extreme events like hurricanes and storms, sea-level rise, floods, droughts and desertification.

The United States on Monday announced it will send a cabinet-level energy and trade mission to China next year to drum up clean-energy business following a breakthrough US-China climate accord.

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz will lead the business development mission to China in April, the Commerce Department said.

The trade mission is aimed at helping US companies launch or increase their business in the world's second-largest economy and the leading emitter of greenhouse gases.

The mission will include up to 25 top US company executives looking for opportunities in areas such as green buildings, carbon capture utilization and storage, energy efficiency technologies, clean air and water technologies, waste treatment technologies, smart grid and green transportation.

"China will continue to have tremendous energy needs as the country urbanizes and grows its middle class, and American companies have the expertise necessary to serve as partners in building clean and efficient infrastructure," Pritzker said in a statement.

The mission is part of the Obama administration's moves targeting stronger and wider bilateral clean-energy cooperation following the November 12 joint announcement by President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping on the two countries' post-2020 climate targets, according to the statement.

In a landmark pact with the United States, China committed for the first time to limiting its greenhouse gas output -- setting a target date of about 2030 for its emissions to peak. It also pledged that 20 percent of its energy would come from renewable sources by 2030.

The United States in exchange agreed to cut its emissions by 26-28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025.

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Norway increases Green Climate Fund contribution
Oslo (AFP) Dec 05, 2014
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