Thursday, 27 September 2007

Greenhouse gases and carbon emissions were again the talk of the town during this past fortnight. Two gatherings were particularly noteworthy in this regard. Delegates in Montreal, Canada, at the Nineteenth Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, agreed to an accelerated phase-out schedule for hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), which are ozone depletors as well as greenhouse gases. And then 80 heads of State or Government, and representatives from 150 countries, participated in the largest-ever meeting of global political leaders on climate change at UN headquarters in New York, US. While UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon characterized the New York meeting as a “clear call from world leaders for a breakthrough on climate change in Bali,” another message coming out of the meeting, “that all other [climate change] processes or initiatives should be compatible with the UNFCCC process and feed into it,” highlights that the “clear call” will need careful shepherding if it is to result in new commitments under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. How the Montreal meeting and the US-sponsored meeting of major economies on energy security and climate change, which is taking place in Washington, DC, from 27-28 September 2007, fit into the multilateral climate change framework remains a matter of debate and speculation. We will follow this debate as it takes further shape in several cities, leading up to the December 2007 climate change meetings in Bali, Indonesia.

Lynn Wagner, Ph.D.
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