UN climate talks wrap up after fresh rows

April 12, 2010 12:00 am

, BONN, Apr 11 – Three days of talks aimed at putting a new gloss on UN climate talks ended here late Sunday after new textual trench warfare less than four months after a stormy summit in Copenhagen.

Countries wrangled for hours beyond the scheduled close over the work schedule under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and what blueprint to adopt for further negotiations.

"The negotiations were very tense. There is a lot of mistrust," said French chief negotiator Paul Watkinson.

"Some delegates don\’t seem to have taken onboard what happened in Copenhagen and the need to gain quick, concrete results."

As the 194-nation forum struggled with a sour mood, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer warned that the process would be dealt a crippling blow if it failed to deliver a breakthrough at a November 29-December 10 meeting in Cancun, Mexico.

Cancun had to yield a "functioning architecture" on big questions, including curbs on carbon emissions and aid for poor countries, de Boer said in an interview with AFP.

"We reached an agreement in Bali (in 2007) that we would conclude negotiations two years later in Copenhagen, and we didn\’t," he said.

"The finishing line has now been moved to Cancun, and I wouldn\’t be surprised if the final finishing line in terms of a legally binding treaty ends up being moved to South Africa," at the end of 2011.

"Copenhagen was the last get-out-of-jail-free card and we cannot afford another failure in Cancun," de Boer said. "(…) If we see another failure in Cancun, that will cause a serious loss of confidence in the ability of this process to deliver."

The Bonn talks exposed a rift between developed and developing countries over whether to pursue or quietly bury Copenhagen\’s main outcome.

This is the so-called Copenhagen Accord, brokered by a couple of dozen countries in frenzied late-night haggling as the summit faced collapse.

It sets a general goal of limiting warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), earmarks some 30 billion dollars in fast-track aid from 2010 to 2012 and sketches a target of mustering 100 billion dollars annually by 2020.

But the agreement came under fire from countries excluded from the small drafting group and failed to gain the endorsement of a 194-nation plenary. Around two-thirds of UNFCCC members have now signed up to it, though.

Some of the faultlines opened up again in Bonn.

The United States and the European Union (EU) said the Copenhagen Accord, despite its flaws, should be included in draft text for negotiations.

"We need a different paradigm and that\’s what emerges from Copenhagen," said top US delegate Jonathan Pershing to journalists.

Other countries were not keen about incorporating the Copenhagen Accord in the negotiating blueprint, reflecting concern about the document\’s purely voluntary emissions pledges and the way the deal was brokered.

Left-led nations in the Caribbean and Latin America attacked the Accord as undemocratic and a betrayal of UN principles. They called for negotiations to resume on the basis of a draft that was put on hold halfway through the Copenhagen meeting, delegates said.

After hours of debate, delegates agreed to give the chairwoman of the main working group, Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe, latitude to draw up a negotiating text.

The Copenhagen Accord was not specifically mentioned in this mandate, but Mukahanana-Sangarwe said orally it would be taken into account, along with other documents.

Two extra rounds of talks will take place before Cancun, the conference agreed.

Underpinning the UN talks is mounting evidence that manmade greenhouse gases — mainly carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels — are trapping solar heat in the atmosphere.

Within decades, changes to Earth\’s weather system could spell misery for many millions, hit by worsening drought, flood, rising sea levels and storms, say experts.


Latest Articles

Most Viewed