7 climate change offenders in Warsaw

The goal heading into the annual UN climate change talks in Warsaw was clear: to establish commitments for developing countries and the world’s major economies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, laying the groundwork for talks in Paris in 2015 for an agreement to come into effect in 2020.

After 36 hours of marathon negotiations over the weekend, the goal was not met.

The word "commitments" was replaced with "contributions," producing a "limp agreement" to avoid a "Copenhagen-style train-wreck," as occurred in 2009.

Negotiations over who pays for the cleanup of climate catastrophes in the developing world also hit a snag. Rich countries signed on to a "loss and damage" mechanism because the wording was vague enough on the question of liability of developed countries.

The good news is the climate talks did produce a deal on forestry. The loss of forests accounts for nearly a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions, and there is now a mechanism of "results-based payments" to encourage developing countries to half deforestation and increase afforestation.

The bad news is the list of climate change offenders at this year's meeting in Warsaw made sure other gains weren't made. Here are some notable laggards:

Australia: Winner of this year's Collosal Fossil Award, given to the most obstructionist country at the UN talks by Climate Action Network International.

Canada: Thanks to Australia's obstinance, Canada's six-year streak as winner of the Collossal Fossil came to an end. But Canada still walked away with a special Lifetime Unachievement Fossil Award.

Poland: As host nation, Poland gave a two-day platform to the global coal industry. Coal is the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel and supplies most of Poland's energy.

China and India: The countries teamed up to block the word "commitments" from making the final cut. As a result, the weaker word "contributions" was inserted to make sure a deal was reached.

Japan: Instead of a 25% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, Japan announced its emissions would be increasing by 3%.

Brazil: The country reported that the annual destruction of its Amazing rainforest jumped by 28% this year. Environmentalists blame Brazil's forest protection law that favours agricultural development.

Photo: 350org. Used under a Creative Commons BY 2.0 licence.


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