Statement of Eileen Claussen
President, Pew Center on Global Climate
COP-8 marked the beginning of an important shift in international climate negotiations from the specifics of implementing the Kyoto Protocol to the broader question of what happens next.
The issues formally before negotiators in Delhi were largely technical, and progress on them was modest. Nonetheless there were important advances, including decisions paving the way for the launch of Kyoto's Clean Development Mechanism.
Perhaps the most significant outcome, however, was the emergence of a vigorous debate over next steps in the development of an international framework for climate action. The question of future commitments, which has long loomed in the background, is now squarely on the table. It is no surprise that parties reached no consensus. An equitable sharing of responsibility for protecting our climate will emerge only after long and no doubt difficult dialogue. Now, at least, the dialogue has begun.
Regrettably, one of the major impediments to productive dialogue on next steps is the United States. Having rejected Kyoto in part because it did not include commitments for developing countries, the Administration argued forcefully in Delhi against any consideration of such commitments. Delivering one message at home and another abroad serves only to impede progress on both fronts.
The Delhi Declaration rightfully recognizes that meeting the objective of a safe and stable climate will require significant long-term reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. At this critical juncture, it is imperative that developed countries - including the United States - move forward with concrete measures to reduce their emissions, and that all countries seek common ground for an effective long-term climate strategy.