Global Politics

Challenges for a new climate treaty

The deadline is next December and that's where the next major climate treaty is supposed to be finalized. The new treaty will replace the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012 and has not been very effective because it was never ratified by the U.S., the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases until recently and China, the current leader, wasn't required under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce its emissions. The next challenge is to agree to a protocol which is stronger and binds all the big emitters, especially the U.S. and China. So what does the Obama team need to do to prepare for that meeting? First off, Obama will need to form a team for this. Once the full team is up and running, getting the support of Congress will be crucial. When Clinton signed onto Kyoto, he couldn't get the Senate to ratify the treaty. Obama will want to avoid that mistake and get Congress on board before signing a treaty. This could mean that Obama might not be ready to negotiate next winter. The U.S. will also need to engage in bilateral talks with China on the topic before the international meeting, which will take some time too. This analyst thinks it's unlikely there will be a specific focused bargain by winter next year. He worries that major emitters from the developing world will wait signing any agreement which restricts their emissions levels until seeing if wealthy nations like the U.S. are engaged in limiting their own emissions, meaning it could take a lot longer than next winter. There will be more opportunities that just the summit next winter, but some say it would be a mistake to concede defeat this early.

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