World economic crisis puts climate agreement, CO2 cuts in jeopardy
Worldwide financial turmoil is seriously damaging the chances of the world’s biggest polluters agreeing on a new international climate treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol. U.N. officials and climate experts have said for months now that the world needs to agree on, at the very least, specific emission targets for a new climate treaty by 2009 in order to have a decent chance of avoiding the most damaging effects of climate change. However, the 2009 timeline was somewhat ambitious even before the economic crisis blew up, since the United States and China keep using each other as excuses to avoid binding emissions cuts. But now such an agreement is even less likely given the dearth of global capital available to help developing nations fund clean-energy projects and adapt to climate change’s effects — both seen as crucial incentives to draw poorer nations to the negotiating table. The financial chaos is already prompting the European Union to reconsider its own emissions-cutting plans. Officials have hinted they will likely not require the power sector and other heavily polluting industries to purchase permits to pollute — a major component of the E.U.’s plan to slash emissions 20 percent by 2020.