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U.S. Called 'Immoral', Canada 'Laggard' at International Climate Conference

"“Environmental destruction is a sin against God."

There is some name calling going on as climate talks continue at the United Nation's 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) in Durban, South Africa. The American Independent reports that the United States was called "immoral" and "enemy number one", and Canada referred to as a "laggard country."

Canada was met with disapproval by some when it decided to abandon the Kyoto Protocol, because of extremely unsuccessful emission reductions. The Kyoto Protocol called for emissions to be lowered 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2012 with efforts starting in 2005. The American Independent states that emissions are up 30 percent compared to those emitted in 1990.

Some talks involve extending the protocol, but some countries, including the United States, are reluctant to sign an agreement just yet.

Here is more about what's being said according to the American Independent:

At a well-attended briefing Tuesday morning held by NGO umbrella organization Climate Action Network, Bishop Geoff Davies, executive director of the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute, highlighted what he saw as the contradiction inherent in the fact that the people of the United States are deeply religious but also alienated from the responsibility faith demands to address suffering tied to climate-altering pollution.

“The US is a nation of great faith, of Christian commitment. We find it extraordinary that they are behaving like this. We find it immoral,” he said when a Turkish journalist asked what additional pressure could be brought to bear on the world’s lone superpower. “Environmental destruction is a sin against God. We say to faith groups in the U.S.: You’ve got to recognize your responsibilities to combat climate change.”

[...]

Jim Leape, director general of World Wildlife Fund, called the negotiations “a huge failure of ambition on the part of governments.” He said that a delay in ratifying the Kyoto Protocol would be “binding ourselves to a 4-degree world.”

So far, there isn't enough support outside of the countries in the European Union to extend the protocol. The American Independent reports that the U.S. is trying delay a new agreement until 2020. China has also said it would be in favor of signing a new agreement then but has stipulations that the United States wouldn't agree to. The New York Times reports contention between the two countries on details of this deal have emerged, frustrating some in attendance:

Todd D. Stern, the American climate change envoy, said that the United States would be happy to discuss a formal treaty at some future date and then spelled out his conditions, which also were not new and appeared to rule out any sort of deal like that envisioned by Mr. Xie.

For a legally binding agreement to take hold, “it’s going to be absolutely critical that it applies to all the major players, and China obviously is one of them,” Mr. Stern said at a briefing.

“All the major players are going to have to be in with obligations, with commitments that have the same legal force,” he added. “And that means there’s no conditionality, they’re not conditional on receiving technology or financing, there’s no trap doors, there’s no Swiss cheese in that kind of an agreement.”

The continuing dispute between the United States and China, the two largest sources of the carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming, has come to be an enduring feature of these negotiations and a source of deep frustration for the other players.

Jo Leinen, the German Social Democrat who leads the delegation from the European Parliament, lashed out at both superpowers on Wednesday afternoon.

“What is really frustrating to see is this conference is again hijacked by the Ping-Pong game between the U.S. and China,” he said. “It is unacceptable and no more tolerable that this game is blocking the overall process. Now that China has done some moves, let’s test their seriousness. I don’t see the same commitment, the same signals from the U.S. The one is not yet ready; the other is not willing. We really have a problem.”

The American Independent reports GreenPeace Executive Director Kumi Naidoo as saying that the U.S. government is confusing the world and its citizens when it puts the interests of "polluters" above that of people. Naidoo wrote in an opinion piece posted by the Huffington Post today that the U.S.'s stance in the discussions is destructive and is calling for it to "stand aside and let those who are willing to move ahead [...] in agreeing to a climate saving deal."

One last thing…
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