At the ongoing climate change talks in Lima (the Peruvian capital), the U.S. and China are now pitched one against the other with their allies sided behind them in talks and deals that are getting weaker as the summit nears its end. The issues causing the sublime rift range from voluntary donations to poor-against-developed countries, among other things.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks during the inauguration of the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru, on Dec. 9.

For instance, the US and its supporters seek for all world governments, whether rich or poor, to limit greenhouse gases as a way to eliminate global warming in the coming years; but China and India amidst other developing countries desire that industrial nations be aided at meet a pledge of $100 billion annually for climate change programs by 2020. One party is talking money, while the other is talking on cutting emissions.

Yvo de Boer, the main UN diplomat handling the talks until 2010 and the director-general of the Global Green Growth Institute in Seoul states that “This process is slipping between their fingers. The emissions-reduction commitments are getting weaker. The financial commitments are not what developing countries hoped. The legal rigor has been washed away.”

This shows that various blocs of countries at the climate summit in Peru appear to have differing goals. Poor and developing nations see themselves as poor and vulnerable with the need to be protected at the talks and the resultant agreements, but rich and developed nations which are the most obvious polluters desire that all nations alike answer to the challenges of global warming regardless of levels of input to pollutions.

Bussiness Week reports that “Since 1992, envoys have agreed rich countries should move first on emissions and help pay for cuts made by the poor. That left developing nations looking to the U.S., the European Union and Japan for a solution, and cash. Now, as industries emerge within developing countries, the emphasis is changing.”

Jake Schmidt, who monitors the talks for the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington says “There’s a third tier of countries that matter a lot to emissions – Brazil, Indonesia, South Korea, Mexico,” he said. “The question now is, ‘What are they doing?’”. But the problem is that China has now been grouped as a developing nation, and this exposes India which has increasing levels of emissions in recent times.

The issue now is this: forcing poor countries to be part of the deal provides that financial commitments be made voluntary rather than legally binding and compulsory for all concerned.

“No single country, not even the United States, can solve this problem or foot this bill alone,” said US Secretary of State John Kerry who dropped in on the talks. “If even one or two major economies fail to respond to this threat, it will counteract much of the good work.” And Nat Keohane, a vice-president for Environmental Defense Fund in New York supports Kerry by saying “For a long time, other countries had the excuse: ‘If the U.S. isn’t acting, if China isn’t acting, why do we have to act?’” Now, he said, “different countries are trying on a different language” and starting to move.

Ed Davey, U.K. Energy Secretary affirms that “Everyone knows what countries have been slightly slow on this, but the impact is going to be that they will redouble their efforts, and that’s a good thing. Even those who don’t make the end of the first quarter next year will come out relatively soon afterwards because the pressure is increasing on them.”

India states it is still thinking of what to give as its own pledge, and Japan agrees to give its own pledge after the deadline in March 2015.

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