Yesterday was the first day of meetings in Hawaii of the world’s major economies convened by US President Bush. There is very little coverage in the press regarding what specifics were discussed or even the general tenor of the meeting. In fact, at the time of this writing, the US State Department website doesn’t even provide an agenda of the proceedings.
According to some reports, the US is seeing this meeting as a way of mending fences with its allies and the general world community who took US delegates to task at last month’s UN meeting in Bali. In Bali, the EU threatened to boycott the Hawaii talks if the US failed to agree to a 25-40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2020. The US did not embrace the reduction, but the EU did not follow through on its threat.
Given the public nature of the US-EU showdown last month, perhaps the lack of news yesterday is an indication that some serious negotiations are occurring. Conversely, the EU could also be biding time for a new administration in Washington that may be more pragmatic in negotiations.
The ever-diplomatic UN climate change head, Yvo de Boer, was quoted as saying that there has been a shift in the mood of negotiations, suggesting that the US may be moving away from its recalcitrance.
Otherwise, most of the reporting from Hawaii centered around activist communities registering their impatience with the pace of negotiations as well as Hawaiian political leaders expressing their concern with the issue of climate change. On the former theme, activists in Australia encouraged climate change minister Penny Wong to push for action and Reuters reports that there were a handful of protesters at the East-West Center where the talks were taking place.
Hawaii’s governor, Linda Lingle urged the delegates to bridge their differences while Honolulu mayor, Mufi Hannemann, reports on his support of the the US Conference of Mayors commitment to address climate change.
Finally, the Reuters environmental blog reports that nature itself may be making a statement as Hawaii is experiencing rare winter storm advisories and many of the beach-front hotels are putting up sandbags in anticipation of protecting the beach from storm swells.