Todd SternIt’s just a guidepost, guys. No need to panic.Photo: US Mission GenevaCross-posted from ThinkProgress Green.

China limits commitments

This week, China’s top climate envoy said that the nation would be open to signing a formal treaty limiting emissions after 2020 — but laid down conditions for doing so that are unlikely ever to be met.

Xie Zhenhua, the head of the Chinese delegation, has refused to confirm that China would, as he had suggested, accept a binding international obligation to slow the growth in its emissions.

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U.S. stance on climate risks increasingly absurd

The limit of 2 degrees C [3.6 degrees F] warming above pre-industrial levels is just a “guidepost,” U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern told reporters.’s Jamie Henn writes that “the U.S. has taken on an even more insidious role by pushing a proposal that the international community adopt a ‘mandate’ to negotiate a new climate treaty that will take effect in 2020,” and “the 2020 timeline seems to be gaining traction here at the talks,” even though it “isn’t just a delay, it’s a death sentence.”

The mandate for a climate treaty that goes into effect in 2020 was actually suggested by the European Union’s top climate diplomat, Connie Hedegaard, before the Durban talks even began.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one. is asking Brazil, China, and the European Union to “save and strengthen the Kyoto Protocol and work together to agree on a more ambitious legally binding deal no later than 2015.”

“A legally binding agreement after 2020 would be disastrous for humanity; global temperature will rise at least 4 degrees-plus,” Bangladesh Environment Minister Hasan Mahmud said in an interview.

A U.S. climate official admitted that it is not at all clear whether current targets will be enough to keep the world below 2 degrees C of warming, but that the pledges made in Cancun were “as far as we could go.”

“I think the U.S. position is becoming more and more paranoiac,” said Pratap Pandey from the Center of Science and Environment in Delhi. “It’s fine to resort to rhetoric, but it’s pathetic to take recourse to nonsense.”

“We have not won enough under 2 1/2 years of Obama,” European Parliament environment committee chair Jo Leinen said. “So if the next would be a Tea Party president and Congress, the world cannot wait.”

Alex Lenferna: “In order to deviate from the Cancun Accords pathway towards a 2 degree (never mind 1.5 degree) target, the effort that would have to be taken from 2020, as opposed to if we implemented the new treaty on 2015, would be monumental, and, quite frankly, politically impossible.”

Green Climate Fund framework moves forward

South Africa, which heads the current round of climate talks in Durban, has, after informal consultations, taken the view that the climate finance mechanism, or Green Climate Fund, will work under the oversight “and function under the guidance” of the Conference of Parties, or the general assembly of all the countries.

“The U.S. actions to throw obstacles in the way of any discussion on sources of finance for the Green Climate Fund risks condemning the fund to kick off as an empty shell,” said David Waskow, policy adviser for Oxfam.

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