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Guardian: UN should be sidelined in future climate talks, says Obama official

America sees a diminished role for the United Nations in trying to stop global warming after the “chaotic” Copenhagen climate change summit, an Obama administration official said today.

Jonathan Pershing, who helped lead talks at Copenhagen, instead sketched out a future path for negotiations dominated by the world’s largest polluters such as China, the US, India, Brazil and South Africa, who signed up to a deal in the final hours of the summit. That would represent a realignment of the way the international community has dealt with climate change over the last two decades.

“It is impossible to imagine a global agreement in place that doesn’t essentially have a global buy-in. There aren’t other institutions beside the UN that have that,” Pershing said. “But it is also impossible to imagine a negotiation of enormous complexity where you have a table of 192 countries involved in all the detail.”

Pershing said the flaws in the UN process, which demands consensus among the international community, were exposed at Copenhagen. “The meeting itself was at best chaotic,” he said, in a talk at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “We met mostly overnight. It seemed like we didn’t sleep for two weeks. It seemed a funny way to do things, and it showed.”

The lack of confidence in the UN extends to the $30bn (£18.5bn) global fund, which will be mobilised over the next three years to help poor countries adapt to climate change.

“The UN didn’t manage the conference that well,” Pershing said. “I am not sure that any of us are particularly confident that the UN managing the near-term financing is the right way to go.”

But we should let the UN handle the less important stuff, like peacekeeping, nuclear disarmament, terrorism, etc.?



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