World News Brief, Thursday September 24

China and Japan promise to cut greenhouse emissions by 2020 (+ Copenhagen analysis); Israel-Palestine "ice-breaker" brings talks closer; Obama considers reducing troop numbers in Afghanistan; Burmese general sneaks into US; and more

Top of the Agenda: Climate Summit

In his first speech before the United Nations, U.S. President Barack Obama said the United States is "determined to act" (VOA) on climate change, pointing to efforts to invest in alternate energy sources.

Chinese President Hu Jintao announced plans (Times of London) to cut emissions by 2020, and to "vigorously" develop renewable and nuclear energy . But activists were disappointed that Hu did not commit to specific carbon limits. China is the world's largest carbon emitter.

The Washington Post says the recent commitments from the United States, China, and other major carbon emitters indicate the December international conference on climate change in Copenhagen could yield "a political deal that would establish global federalism on climate policy, with each nation pledging to take steps domestically."


CFR's Michael Levi discusses the challenges of reaching a new international climate deal before the Copenhagen conference in December.

In an interview with CFR, Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh says India plans to outline unilateral greenhouse gas emissions cuts soon. But he says rich states must commit to greater cuts of their own before developing countries can agree on binding global targets.

CFR's Elizabeth Economy says it would not be "unreasonable" to seek binding commitments from China and India on emissions that would take effect a decade from now. She also recommends decoupling China from other developing nations in climate negotiations.


The text of Hu's speech to the UN summit is available here.

The United Nations offset the carbon emissions the summit created by sending funding (NYT) to a power project in rural Andhra Pradesh, India that turns cast off agricultural products into electricity.


PACIFIC RIM: Japan Emissions

Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama told the UN climate change summit that Japan will make a 25 percent cut (Japan Today) in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2020. Hatoyama also said Japan can provide financial and technical support for developing countries to reduce emissions.

Burma: Maj. Gen. Nyan Win, Burma's foreign minister, quietly visited Washington late last week, the Washington Post reports. Nyan Win met with members of Burma's embassy, a U.S.-Asian business council and Sen. James Webb (D-VA). It was the first visit of a foreign minister from Burma in nine years.



Palestinian, Israeli officials hold talks in New York.
President Obama considering new Afghanistan policy options.
Brazil requests Security Council session on Honduras.

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