The United States ran into crossfire on Wednesday after it called for “flexibility” in climate talks, even if this approach could not guarantee meeting the UN’s target on global warming.
Europe demanded that the two-degree-Celsius (3.6-degree-Fahrenheit) objective set at the Copenhagen summit in 2009 be honoured while small island states accused Washington of dangerous backsliding.
The skirmishes came ahead of a new talks for a global treaty to roll back greenhouse-gas emissions which stoke atmospheric warming and damage Earth’s fragile climate system.
In a barely-noticed speech in New Hampshire on August 2, chief US negotiator Todd Stern said negotiations had to avoid a rigid format that prompted nations to defend their own interests and avoid painful curbs.
He called for a “flexible” approach which would not only be easier to negotiate but also encourage deeper cuts in the long run.