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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Emerging Deal

Air Date: Week of

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Host Steve Curwood talks with Raul Estrada, vice president of the climate change talks, about what issues are nearing agreement as the negotiations continue.


CURWOOD: With me now is Raul Estrada, ambassador from Argentina, and vice president of the negotiations here in Bonn. Hello sir.

ESTRADA: Hello, how are you? Nice to see you again.

CURWOOD: Tell me, when the dust settles Friday, when all the T's are crossed and the I's are dotted, what will be the basic thrust of it?

ESTRADA: Well, first of all that we recover the dynamics, this I think is the main point. Second we have some progress on sinks, defining how big the loopholes are, because the Kyoto protocol has loopholes, but we are to define how big they are going to be, and that is one of the first things we are going to do. The other thing is to know how flexible to make it, otherwise it never is going to work. And we also have some problems with that. It is also a point to know how the developing countries are going to get substantive help to adapt to the climate change and to mitigate emissions. And we also expect to have progress in that area.

CURWOOD: Under this present level of agreement, Japan gets a lot in terms of sinks, that is using trees and such to sequester carbon, effectively reducing what they have to get out of industry, as does Canada, Australia and the United States, if it were a part of this. For the longest time the Europeans didn't want to do that. What do you think made them change their mind?

ESTRADA: What had been happening in the last years already from 1990 until now, is not such a big amount. It is relevant, but it is not such a big amount. If you add all the numbers you have for all countries to use for reduction of emissions, it amounts to perhaps seven percent of the total they have to reduce. It is not that much.

CURWOOD: Compliance has been a sticking point. In fact the original convention about climate change says that we should stop climate change, but there is no enforcement mechanisms; it really hasn't worked. What about now, are there real teeth in this agreement?

ESTRADA: Well there is a great tendency to have a very strong compliance agreement. My personal view is that it is very difficult to do that, there is not such a thing in any agreement today enforced. Countries are usually not willing to be subject to sanctions, particularly in this case where the source of the emissions are going to be from private factories and then you cannot penalize countries. I think we have a lot to do still in that area. There are many reasons because countries fulfill their commitment in treaties. A system of compliance and control is only one. There is a lot of literature on that. We have to evolve in a way that some consequences are going to be clear if somebody does not fulfill the commitment, but no penalties to be imposed, no fines to be paid for.

CURWOOD: What message does this agreement send to the United States?

ESTRADA: The message, I think, people here, the delegations here would like to send to the U.S., is that we are still working with confidence on that protocol. We still think that this is the way to solve the problem, or to start the solution of the problem, and we are protecting the interest in the U.S. in this sense that all point requested by the US before when they were in the negotiations, are there. We are not changing that. This is still like it was before and no additional conditions are added to the U.S.

CURWOOD: I want to thank you for taking this time today.

ESTRADA: Well thank you very much. I am delighted to be with you.



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