Climate treaty ‘some way off’: Australia

WASHINGTON - A legally binding treaty on climate change remains “some way off,” Australia’s negotiator said, as hopes ebb for a breakthrough before December’s summit in Cancun, Mexico.

By (Agencies)

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Published: Wed 21 Apr 2010, 12:40 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 3:36 AM

Penny Wong, Australia’s minister for climate change, was in Washington for talks among major economies on whether a treaty was possible in the wake of the turbulent last climate summit in Copenhagen in December.

“I think we all know after Copenhagen that the objective of getting a legally binding agreement is some way off,” Wong told reporters on Capitol Hill where she was meeting US lawmakers.

“I think there’s no doubt that we’ve got a lot of work to do at Cancun and beyond,” she said.

Wong hoped that the Cancun conference could achieve tangible progress even if it does not complete a final treaty, saying that there was a “political consensus” from Copenhagen.

“I hope Cancun can make constructive, positive steps on some key issues. There are certainly some key issues we need to operationalize,” she said.

Todd Stern, the top US climate negotiator, said Monday after the two-day talks that it was important to have “realistic” expectations for Cancun, playing down chances of a full-blown treaty.

The Kyoto Protocol requires wealthy nations to cut carbon emissions blamed for global warming through the end of 2012. Developed countries insist that the next treaty be legally binding and include emerging economies such as China.

China, India and other major developing nations have pledged action on climate change but hesitated at a treaty with force of law, saying wealthy states bear historic responsibility for climate change.

The shape of the next treaty is especially sensitive in the United States and Australia, where President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd both face challenges to persuade lawmakers to agree to action on climate change.

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