Huhne asked to 'bridge Kyoto gap' between nations
Britain's Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Chris Huhne, was yesterday handed the job of solving the key problem which threatens the collapse of the UN climate talks in Cancun.
Mr Huhne has been asked by the Mexican organisers of the conference to try bridging the "Kyoto Protocol gap", between those countries that insist they will never sign up to a new period of Kyoto, the current climate treaty (such as the Japanese, Russians and Canadians) and those who insist that without a Kyoto extension, there can be no new climate deal (such as the Bolivians, the Venezuelans, the Chinese and the African countries).
The increasingly polarised dispute between rich and poor nations threatens the talks with the same impasse that led to the breakdown of the previous UN climate conference in Copenhagen last December.
Mr Huhne, who is leading Britain's delegation at Cancun, has been asked by the Mexicans to join with Brazil's Environment Minister, Izabella Teixeira, in holding discussions with the countries that have taken entrenched positions on Kyoto – particularly the Japanese on the one side and the radical South Americans on the other. Their task is to find a compromise way forward.
Mr Huhne and Ms Texeira saw all the key parties yesterday in a round of meetings. Some countries refused to budge. The Japanese were "robust in their line", a British source said, adding: "It's difficult. It was always going to be difficult." Both ministers will report on their progress to the full conference this morning.
Mr Huhne's task was not helped by uncertainty over whether he would have to fly back from Mexico for tomorrow's crucial Commons vote on tuition fees.
He has made it clear he is prepared to return to support the Government in the vote, depending on the whips' calculations of the arithmetic – which was being decided late last night – but if he were to come back he would have to leave today, with negotiations in which he is playing a crucial part poised at a very delicate stage.
His pulling out at such a key moment would leave many parties to the conference dismayed, to say the least. He and Ms Texeira are trying to look for the centre ground – if there is any. "The idea is to try to give the Mexicans a fairly good feel for where the real sticking points may be in different delegations, and where we might be able to negotiate our way through those particular problems," Mr Huhne said.
Signed in the Japanese city in 1997, the Kyoto Protocol has totemic importance for the developing countries, as it legally binds the industrialised nations to make cuts in their emissions of greenhouse gases, while not saddling the developing nations with similar commitments.
Kyoto's "first commitment period" runs out at the end of 2012, and the Japanese publicly insisted at the start of the conference last week, in unusually strong language, that they would not sign up to a second commitment period "under any circumstances". (It became clear later they were supported by Russia and Canada.)
Their declaration was met by a similar uncompromising announcement from the radical South American nations of the so-called Alba group, led by Bolivia and Venezuela. They made it clear that without a renewed Kyoto, there would be no new climate deal. The Alba countries said they had the backing of most of the developing world.
At stake is the possibility of taking forward the informal but new and important pledges to cut greenhouse gases which were part of the Copenhagen Accord, the patched-up last-minute deal salvaged by world leaders from the wreckage of the talks in the Danish capital. Also at risk is new treaty to prevent deforestation and setting up a new UN Green Fund to disburse $100m (£63m) per year.
Dolphins ‘deliberately get high’ on puffer fish nerve toxins by carefully chewing and passing them around
Easy living: The truth about modern communes
Global warming ‘will make our winters colder’
A good year for nature in Britain, despite the cold: After frostiest March for 50 years, summer gave rise to an explosion in wildlife
Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past
- 1 Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
- 2 Antonio Martin shooting: Police and protesters clash over teenager's death just five miles from Ferguson, Missouri
- 3 Northern Lights above Britain: Stunning Aurora Borealis illuminates Northumberland sky on Christmas Eve
- 4 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
- 5 New route to Mars could make manned mission much cheaper and easier
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...
£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...
Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...