Major economies discuss climate talks

20 April 2010

The Climate Group's Damian Ryan analyzes the MEF meeting that took place in Washington on April 19th.

Countries belonging to the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF) appear to have had a constructive meeting in Washington on April 19th.

The MEF, which was set up by President Obama in 2009, provides a forum for major greenhouse gas emitting countries to discuss climate and energy issues in an informal setting. Tuesday’s meeting was the first time the MEF had met following the Copenhagen climate conference.
A summary released by the US State Department showed that MEF countries tackled many of the controversial issues that undermined progress in Copenhagen.   
Topics covered included the role of the MEF in supporting the UN process, the status of the Copenhagen Accord, the ‘legal form’ of a future global climate deal, realistic goals for the next UN climate summit in December, and ‘fast-start’ financing.  
While the note stresses the positive aspects and tone of the meeting, it is clear that important differences between developed and developing countries remain. Continuing work to build consensus on key issues will be essential.
In the meantime, the fact that the US, China, India, the EU and other major emitters have re-engaged in free and frank debate on core negotiating topics is encouraging. Such open discussions are virtually impossible in the formal and often politicized UN process. This underlines the importance of parallel initiatives to securing a global climate deal.  
The MEF’s legitimacy and ability to influence the wider negotiations will, however, depend on the transparency of its work, a key issue for the majority of countries that are not members of the forum.
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