Latest round of climate talks end

The latest in a series of international climate talks ended August 14 in Bonn. The December 2009 Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen is supposed to establish a new post-Kyoto Protocol agreement scheduled to take effect in 2012.

According to the UN climate convention secretariat, plans currently offered by industrialized countries (other than the US) would reduce greenhouse gas emissions to between 15 and 21 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. President Obama has set a target of just reducing U.S. emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. The scientists in the International Panel on Climate Change have said that emissions need to be cut between 25 and 40 percent from 1990 levels to prevent major impacts from heatwaves, floods and rising sea levels.

On August 11, the UN Secretary-General warned that "If we fail to act, climate change will intensify droughts, floods and other natural disasters. Water shortages will affect hundreds of millions of people. Malnutrition will engulf large parts of the developing world. Tensions will worsen. Social unrest -- even violence -- could follow."

Anders Turesson, the chief climate negotiator for Sweden, which is now leading the European Union, observed that "What we're talking about is a profound change of industrial civilization. It would be surprising if there weren't stumbling blocks."

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