Between Bangkok, Barcelona and a big bang (with one eye on Capitol Hill)
For those keeping track, there are five months left before the December meeting in Copenhagen where the world is supposed to agree on how to tackle climate change after crucial aspects of the carbon-capping Kyoto Protocol expire. Before they can agree on anything, they have to have a document to work from, and that’s where people like Michael Zammit Cutajar come in.
He and other diplomats at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will get together next month in Bonn to whittle down a 200-page text to something more manageable. On a visit to Washington, he said he didn’t expect any big breakthroughs at that meeting because “people don’t like to work much in August.” So far, he himself hasn’t read through the whole draft and admits it’s likely to be a tough thing to read: “You pick it up, you look at it, you see three pages, you say ‘interesting,’ you put it down again. It’s not meant to be read top to bottom.”
Zammit Cutajar figures the “crunch issues” are more likely to emerge at a meeting in Bangkok over 10 days in September and October, and at another gathering in Barcelona in November, before the main event in Copenhagen.
But the world negotiations aren’t the only games to watch on climate change. The U.S. Senate is expected to take up a bill to curb greenhouse emissions in September; the House has already narrowly approved one. That doesn’t mean there will be a U.S. law in place by December, and that may not even be necessary, Zammit Cutajar says.
“It would be great if there were a Senate outcome that was strong … a signal from both chambers (of Congress) that they’re on the same track,” he said, recognizing that the House and Senate versions of the legislation would have to be reconciled before any law could go to President Barack Obama’s desk.
Zammit Cutajar uses a cosmic metaphor to describe how a world deal on climate change could develop. “The process of negotiation is sort of creation in reverse, with the big bang coming at the end.”
Photo credits: REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang (Grandma Nak Shrine in Bangkok, June 30, 2009)
REUTERS/Albert Gea (Athlete Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica in front of Sagrada Familia church, Barcelona July 22, 2009)