A two-day United Nations’ meeting on climate change is taking place in the German city of Bonn. One goal of the informal conference is to start considering what to do after the Kyoto protocol runs out in 2012.
Climate change could endanger the employment of icebreakers
Over 150 countries are meeting in Bonn, Germany to discuss the post-Kyoto Protocol era. One of the major calls is for the world's largest polluter, the United States, and developing nations to participate when the protocol expires in 2012.
The Kyoto Protocol is meant to obligate rich nations to cut emissions of greenhouse gases from power plants, cars and factories by 5.2 percent below 1990 levels.
Developed nations are supposed to take the lead in reducing greenhouse gas emissions
The developed nations should take the lead in reducing pollution but developing nations must also consider how they could take part in the future without endangering economic growth. Kyoto just entered into force on February 16 after years of delays and was significantly weakened by the United States' pullout.
Nevertheless, Kyoto supporters realize that future treaties cannot be effective without the inclusion of the US.
"This is a global problem -- we can't let the United States stay out," said Argentine Environment Minister Gines Gonzalez Garcia. Australia, another outsider, must also be pulled into the fold, he said.
Effects of continued climate change "disastrous"
German Environment Minister Jürgen Trittin is one of the most vocal supporters of environmental protection
Kyoto's champion, the European Union, says that the planet is warming at an alarmingly fast pace. One of Europe's most outspoken politicians in favor of the treaty is Germany's Environment Minister Jürgen Trittin.
"Climate change is already a harsh reality," the Green party politician told delegates in Bonn. "A global warming of two degrees Celsius (3.6 F) or more (by the year 2100 over pre-industrial levels) increases the likelihood of disastrous and irreversible damage."
The possible effects according to some scientists are northern polar ice melts. Also, a rush of freshwater into the North Atlantic could shut down the Gulf Stream which is responsible for the temperate European climate.
Finger-pointing on many sides
Environmental groups view the United States as the single largest obstacle to curbing the current climate changes, most prominently global warming.
US President George W. Bush is seen by environmental groups as one of the bigger hurdles in stopping global warming
"The biggest challenge is the United States because they still do not want to come back to the international climate process," Markus Steigenberger from Friends of the Earth told DW-RADIO. "We desperately hope that the Bush administration will wake up one day and understand that climate change is also threatening the US and the rest of the world."
Developing countries like India, China and Brazil see rich nations in general as one problem. Developed countries are not pulling their end of the bargain by reducing emissions of heat-trapping gases.
"We hope that (developed nations) will honor their commitments," China's head of delegation Gao Feng said. "The extent to which they do will influence actions in the future."
Developing countries are also urging for more aid and non-polluting energy technologies such as solar and wind energy.
But no matter who or what is primarily responsible for climate change, cooperation and common solutions are needed.
"The best way to ensure post-2012 is to ensure now the success of the Kyoto protocol," Brazil's delegate Andrea Correa do Lago said.