Global Climate Talks Near End with Appeal for Common Ground
By Charlene Porter
Washington - With the U.N. summit on climate change about to enter its final day in Durban, South Africa, the U.S. special envoy to the meeting asked fellow negotiators to "seek the common ground needed to deliver a successful outcome." Envoy Todd Stern spoke December 8 before the 17th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 17) to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The U.S. delegation has been urging other governments participating in the talks to pursue the progress on addressing climate change achieved at 2010 talks in Cancún, Mexico. The agreement endorsed at that assembly contained several important elements, Stern said: a Green Climate Fund to help developing world nations make the transition to cleaner and greener energy sources; a clean technology center to work on development and distribution of more efficient technologies; and a regimen for greater transparency in the monitoring of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).
Bringing these institutions into operation could guide the global response to climate change for some time, Stern said. "We must move on all these issues together, as a balanced package."
The U.S. envoy also assured the assembly that the United States is making progress toward its goal of reducing total GHG output by about 17 percent by 2020. At the same time, the United States is contributing aid to help other countries in the adaptation to clean energy, with more than $5 billion devoted to the cause so far.
GHG MONITORING IN THE UNITED STATES
While negotiations on action to address global climate change can be slow, many U.S. communities have decided to act on their own. The state of California, for example, has adopted standards demanding the use of cleaner fuels, and strategies to cut GHG emissions from trucking, shipping, cement and semiconductor industries and other industries.
A more rigorous regimen for monitoring GHGs in California is the next step toward cleaner air, according to a December 7 announcement. Earth Networks, a weather and climate observation network, will collaborate with the state of California and atmospheric scientists from several scientific institutions in deployment of a network of GHG monitoring stations.
Earth Networks announced its plans to install an array of 100 GHG monitoring instruments in California and nearby states. The company will also contribute data it currently collects from its weather and lightning data networks to support this research.
"More data is necessary to better understand the world around us and the changes taking place over time in the atmosphere," said Bob Marshall, the president and chief executive officer of Earth Networks. Much of the current data on rates and levels of GHG emissions are based on approximations drawn from statistics on fuel use and patterns of human activities.
The California Air Resources Board (CARB), the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are the scientific partners in this project. Combining Earth Networks data with that already collected by the partner institutions "holds the promise of enabling greater understanding of emissions and fluxes in California," said Ying Kuan Hsu, an air pollution specialist at CARB.
Marshall says the data to be provided through this new collection network will give California "atmospheric greenhouse gas measurements on a scale that has never been achieved before."
(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State.)