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UN climate change talks endangered by slow progress
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The talks on sealing a deal in Copenhagen later this year to curb greenhouse gas emissions need to pick up speed amid warnings that the negotiating process will be endangered otherwise, analysts say.

The third round of talks, which concluded in Bonn, Germany, last week, focused on negotiating a huge 200-plus-page draft treaty made during previous round of talks.


The new deal set to be agreed on in Copenhagen, Denmark in December will replace the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol whose first commitment period expires at the end of 2012.

Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said Friday that negotiations would need to considerably pick up speed for the world to achieve a successful result at Copenhagen.

He warned that "if we continue at this rate we're not going to make it."

"We have a 200-plus-page text riddled with square brackets (where issues are unresolved)," he said at the opening of the Bonn meeting. "And it worries me to think how on earth we're going to whittle that down to meaningful language with just five weeks of negotiating time left."

Expressing similar worries, U.S. lead climate negotiator Jonathan Pershing, who was also a key advisor on U.S. international climate policy and strategy, said "If we don't have more movement and more consensus than we saw here, we won't have an agreement."


In order to reach a deal in December, de Boer said a concerted response to climate change was the only way "to ensure that developing countries' concerns are met and do not fall by the wayside in the negotiating process."

He told Xinhua in July that "Without clarity on industrialized countries' targets for 2020 and without proposals on financing, it's of course very difficult, if not impossible for developing countries to make commitment."

He noted that developed countries should fulfill their "international obligations" to finance developing countries in the face of the climate change.

"If industrialized countries can mobilize enough financing, then I am sure developing countries will want to come with their plans or strategies to further limit their emissions. " he said.

China, the largest developing country, called on developed countries to turn their promises into real action to make substantial progress in the current negotiations on climate change.

"The key for the negotiation lies in the real actions of developed countries and I hope they can take the step earlier," said Yu Qingtai, China's special representative for the talks.

"It is not a charity action for developed countries to provide financial and technological support for the developing nations," Yu said. "It is their own historical responsibilities."

Former British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, who was involved in the negotiation of the original Kyoto deal, told the Guardian that the Copenhagen talks would collapse unless rich nations shift their position and show greater support for targets based on per capita emissions.

They have to provide much of the funding required to decarbonize developing economies, Prescott said.

World Wildlife Fund Global Climate Initiative also said that the developed countries focused too much on regulations and procedure and not on the plight of poorer countries.


This time in Bonn, the UN climate change chief showed a more pessimistic tone than at previous meetings.

"You're looking at hugely divergent interests, very little time remaining, a complicated document on the table and still a lot of progress to be made on some very important issues such as finance," de Boer told the BBC when talking about the meeting.

During the meeting, China, India and other developing nations reiterated that they would not sign up to emission targets unless developed nations agree to cut emissions 40 percent by 2020 based on 1990 levels and increase the sums on offer to accelerate the adoption of low-carbon technologies in the developing world.

But their demands appear unlikely to be met, since only the European Union has promised to cut 30 percent by 2020.

The U.S. climate change bill approved in June set a target of cutting 17 percent by 2020 based on its 2005 level, which means just a return to the emission level of 1990. In addition, U.S. negotiators said at the Bonn meeting that they would not sign any deal unless all large emitters, including China and India, were on board.

Chandrashekhar Dasgupta, senior Indian negotiator and former ambassador to China, pointed out the absurdity demonstrated by developed countries trying to qualify his country as a large emitter, saying "Half the rural population in India does not have a light bulb in its home, or a gas ring."

(Xinhua News Agency August 16, 2009)


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