by Jessica Silver

On October 19, students in Pace Law School’s UN Environmental Diplomacy Practicum were privileged to meet with one of the world’s top climate negotiators, His Excellency Dr. John Ashe, the Ambassador/Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Nations and chair of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP 15). Ambassador Ashe offered tremendous insight into the ongoing UN negotiations under the Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol, detailing the current state of the negotiations and the prospects for the next round of meetings of the treaty parties in December in Cancun, Mexico. He also discussed the positions of various states and broad coalitions engaged in the negotiations, including the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), with whose members most of the students are externing. AOSIS has maintained the position that the global community must limit temperature rise to at most 1.5 degrees Celsius. Predictably, this position has engendered fierce opposition from many of the industrialized countries, a large percentage of which are generally unwilling to go beyond their current commitment of 2 degrees. As a result, the prospects for a binding treaty in Cancún are dimming, with many observers hoping only that the conference will produce a series of agreements among the states on specific areas of consensus. Through these agreements, it may be possible to move towards a binding agreement when the treaty parties convene once again in 2012.