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Chance for Climate Deal Is ‘Slim’ as U.S. Moves Blocked, EU Says

The chance of reaching a legally binding global agreement this year to protect the climate is “slim,” said Artur Runge-Metzger, director for climate strategy and negotiations at the European Commission.

Runge-Metzger was speaking at a climate seminar organized by the European Journalism Centre in Budapest today.

Climate envoys worldwide are due to meet in Durban, South Africa, toward the end of this year for talks about the future climate-protection framework after the United Nations’ greenhouse-gas reduction Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

On the U.S.:

“If I now look at what the chances are for Durban to really move a big step forward toward a legally binding agreement, I think the politics this year are probably even more daunting than last year.

“Everybody knows what is happening on the Capitol Hill in Washington, that the Republicans undermine every attempt of the Obama administration to put money on to climate, whether it is domestically or outside. It’s a very difficult situation for an administration that wants to do something on climate but can’t because of the political situation at home.

“That will have a knock-on effect on the rest of the world. That’s certainly a downside.”

On China:

“On the positive note, I mentioned China. China said they were going to implement Cancun. Let’s hope that many more countries take China as an example and move forward. Then we may be able to maintain that spirit.”

On the next climate summit in Durban:

“I think the chances that we will get the comprehensive, binding agreement in Durban are rather slim.

“Still, we as the EU need to be determined. We’ve been through the time when the U.S. was walking away from the Kyoto Protocol. We’ve been able at that time to bring others on board so that the protocol entered into force. That kept the international climate negotiations alive. We have a similar role again -- to make sure that if it is difficult, we’re going to move forward.”

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