World leaders gathered in New York on Tuesday for a series of high-level meetings aimed at securing a global agreement on how to tackle climate change. The meetings are aimed at laying the groundwork for a post-Kyoto deal on emissions reductions ahead of December’s Copenhagen conference, where it’s hoped the agreement will be finalized.
At least two countries who shunned the Kyoto Accord showed a willingness to re-assess their reluctance to commit to emissions targets: China announced it was working on a package of measures to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, while U.S. President Barack Obama touted his government’s renewed commitment “to promote clean energy and reduce carbon pollution.”
Canada, which has so far shunned global efforts to cut emissions partly because China and the U.S. were doing the same, didn’t appear willing to budge even after the two recalcitrant countries proved willing to come onboard. Environment Minister Jim Prentice specifically criticized the Chinese proposal as insufficient because it “did not offer binding targets in terms of reductions, but rather targets that are related to specific things that would be done in China relative to energy efficiency, renewable energies and so on.” Meanwhile, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who declined to attend the climate change meetings but was in New York for a lunch with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said Canada was working alongside the Obama administration on a “truly continental approach to climate change.”
While in New York, Obama hosted a meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestiniant President Mahmoud Abbas. Obama urged the two sides to relaunch peace talks on delicate issues such as the status of Jerusalem, the establishment of a Palestinian state, the dismantling of Israeli settlements, and the fate of Palestinian refugees. The White House has requested that Netanyahu and Abbas meet again in Washington next week to kickstart serious negotiations.