The UK Minister for Climate Change has warned the prospects of an international deal on global warming “don’t look promising” ahead of the UN’s COP17 Conference in Durban, with agreement only likely to be extended to formalising the agreements made at last year’s COP 16 event in Cancun.
In an interview with Holyrood, Conservative MP Greg Barker said “the weather for climate talks is not encouraging” ahead of next month’s conference, and expectations should be limited to nudging major polluters towards a potential deal later in the decade.
There has been little progress on a binding global deal, which many environmentalists believe is the only way to achieve meaningful steps towards reversing climate change, since the disappointment of the Copenhagen climate conference in late 2009. While the Cancun talks produced a limited agreement, including a Green Climate Fund intended to assist poor nations with lowcarbon development and climate protection, Barker said key states such as the US and China continue to block a landmark treaty.
“Clearly the USA has made it very clear that they are not interested, certainly at the current time, in a global treaty….and without the US moving it’s very hard to see how you can get progress elsewhere,” he said.
Barker added that while China has shown “encouraging signs” since playing “a very unconstructive role at Copenhagen,” its reluctance to commit to international agreements remains an obstacle.
“China is very wary about making commitments that impinge on its sovereignty and bind it in to a certain course of action, even if that’s a course of action they are likely to pursue.” Barker said the UK remains committed to the UN process, adding that “internationally, we need more voices to help recalibrate the argument”.
Responding to criticism of Prime Minister David Cameron for his apparent lack of interest in the green agenda, Barker said Cameron “will emerge as a very powerful voice but you’ve got to pick the moment to do that”. He added: “This is a Prime Minister that has a very, very full plate. Now if that means there isn’t the space in the political agenda to make reflective speeches on the future of green policy then I think that’s true.”