Europe pushes for roadmap toward climate deal

A poster advertising the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban. Time is ticking on reaching a climate deal.

Kai Ryssdal: One imagines, with the news of the deal today, that Europeans are breathing a tad easier about the prospects of their financial futures. But if the polls over there are to be believed, the economy is not what they fret about the most. Poverty's higher up, as is climate change.

And that takes us from Brussels, 6,000 miles south to Durban, South Africa. The U.N. climate talks are wrapping up with the talking going late into the night. No deal yet. There have been some important developments over the two weeks the meeting's been going on. And the Europeans are pushing hardest.

From the Marketplace Sustainability Desk, Scott Tong reports.

Scott Tong: Now in the wee hours in Durban, the Europeans are pushing for a what they call a roadmap -- toward a binding climate deal by 2015. They have two new allies: poor countries and island states. Both stand to suffer the most from rising seas and unpredictable weather. In the undecided column: Canada, Japan, the U.S.

Nick Robins at HSBC thinks they're willing to talk.

Nick Robins: But they want it on the basis that the emerging economies -- the Chinas, India and Brazils of this world also come in.

Emerging economies are still buying their first cars and getting electricity, so they don't want to cap emissions too much, too soon. Still, China did signal it could agree to carbon pollution caps -- with the familiar caveat, if the U.S. goes first. Meantime the U.S. has gone from the potential savior of the talks to the perceived laggard today.

Here's David Waskow of Oxfam.

David Waskow: They've played a blocking role in terms of the financial resources that are so critical to developing countries and also to brokering an international agreement.

The horse trading is like to go through the night. What if there's no deal? Jennifer Haverkamp is with Environmental Defense.

Jennifer Haverkamp: Just last week Mexico passed a climate law through its Senate. Australia has a new climate law. The South Africans came out climate policies. So not all the eggs go in this basket.

A basket that may start to fray. Without a new deal, the carbon pollution caps on the books now expire at the end of next year. Those caps apply to all the rich countries except ours.

In Washington, I'm Scott Tong for Marketplace.

About the author

Scott Tong is a correspondent for Marketplace’s sustainability desk, with a focus on energy, environment, resources, climate, supply chain and the global economy.


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