UNITED NATIONS — Just weeks before an international conference on climate change, the United Nations signaled it was scaling back expectations of reaching agreement on a new treaty to slow global warming.
Janos Pasztor, director of the secretary-general's Climate Change Support Team, said Monday "it's hard to say how far the conference will be able to go" because the U.S. Congress has not agreed on a climate bill, and industrialized nations have not agreed on targets to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions or funding to help developing countries limit their discharges.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has made a new climate treaty his top priority, hosting a Sept. 22 summit on climate change to spur political support and traveling extensively to build political momentum for a global agreement to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol which only requires 37 industrialized nations to cut emissions.
Pasztor told a news conference "there is tremendous activity by governments in capitals and internationally to shape the outcome" of the climate change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, in early December, which "is a good development" because political leadership is essential to make a deal.
But he indicated that Copenhagen most likely won't produce a treaty, but instead will push governments as far as they can go on the content of an agreement.
"The secretary-general believes that we must maintain the political momentum established by the 101 heads of state and government who attended the climate change summit and continue to aim for an ambitious, politically binding agreement in Copenhagen that would chart the way for future post-Copenhagen negotiations that lead to a legally binding global agreement
," Pasztor said.
The Associated Press: UN signals delay in climate change treaty