Stern's blunt climate comments
By Juliet Eilperin and Steve Mufson
U.S. special climate envoy Todd Stern gave a surprisingly blunt talk at the Center for American Progress Tuesday about the state of international climate negotiations, and Post Carbon decided to post some of the highlights.
On what it would mean to not impose mandatory limits on greenhouse gases in the United States:
"It is nothing short of crazy for us to be putting our heads in the sand and refusing to take the action that's required."
On whether the recent flaws identified in the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2007 report are affecting global climate talks:
"I think that the point that bears remembering at any time that we consider the science on this issue is the fundamental science of this issue is quite clear, and the mounting evidence on the ground of what's actually happening, and the growing sophistication of the modeling goes way beyond any particular set of data or any particular set of problems that occurred with regard to East Anglia or some mistakes in the IPCC. It's obviously not useful when mistakes are made, but the overwhelming body of evidence is not disturbed by those events."
On the confrontational nature of the Copenhagen negotiations:
COP-15 was a "snarling, aggravating, chaotic event" where developing countries criticized a Danish proposal and "claimed with a straight face that they never saw a document they just spent two days discussing."
"Things obviously didn't turn out as planned, although we did achieve something important."
On the significance of the Copenhagen Accord:
"This was not after all, a casual agreement... It represents a breach in the firewall between developed and major developing countries."
On the focus on the divide between developed and developing nations under the current U.N. negotiating framework, in which industrialized countries must make binding commitments to cut carbon while developing countries can just make voluntary cuts:
"It does not legislate an unbridgeable gap between developed and major developing countries, and it does not say China should be treated like Chad... It cannot trump the core objective that must guide us... that we must act to avoid dangerous climate change. There is simply no other way to head off the coming crisis."
On what happens if major greenhouse gas emitters don't register meaningful climate pledges under the Copenhagen Accord:
"They don't actually sign anything, but they need to sign onto the accord... [If not, it results] in leaving the accord stillborn."
On what it will mean for international negotiations if the U.S. adopts climate legislation this year, and the general importance of such a bill:
"Congress needs to pass comprehensive energy and climate legislation this year.
This is something we must do for our own good.. This year it is, as I said, hugely important. It would be hugely important if there was no international negotiation."
Juliet Eilperin| February 9, 2010; 3:37 PM ET Save & Share:
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