Chief players at Cancun climate summit

Tuesday, December 7, 2010; 3:55 PM

Chief players

The United States came to Cancun without its commanding influence as a world leader against global warming. It has failed to pass a climate change bill - again - making other countries more skeptical of President Obama's pledge to dramatically reduce the nation's carbon emissions 17 percent compared with 2005 levels. So the U.S. goal to increase transparency by persuading other nations to let outside reviewers measure their emissions levels could be an uphill battle.


China has several objectives at the talks, including maintaining the Kyoto Protocol, the legally binding agreement among many developed nations to cap emissions. Now China is showing some willingness to allow outsiders to review its voluntary emission cuts, which could prove key for the negotiations.


On day one, Japan dropped a bombshell: It would not work to extend the Kyoto Protocol past its 2012 expiration date. Without the protocol, which developing nations rely on heavily, the Cancun summit could become a disaster. So everyone's trying to persuade Japan to stay the course. But Japan said it's tired of maintaining the protocol while big polluters such as China and the United States remain exempt.


India's trying to be the glue that holds Cancun together. Through its influential environment minister, Jairam Ramesh, India used diplomacy to get China and the United States to agree to allow the United Nation to verify emissions levels. To sweeten the deal, India would submit to it as well.


As the host country, Mexico is working feverishly behind the scenes. Mexico assured delegates that there were no secret talks. And Mexico boldly offered a proposal that called on developing countries to join developed countries in contributing to a fund that helped nations fight global warming. It wasn't well received.


Latin America's new economic powerhouse is working to broker a global deal here to preserve rain forests in Latin America, Asia and Africa.

- Darryl Fears

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