/ 6 November 2009

UN climate talks make little progress

Climate negotiators prepared to ditch a December deadline for agreeing a new pact as United Nations talks in Barcelona drew to a close on Friday with little progress made.

”It’s an unfinished piece of work, well below what’s needed,” said Lumumba Stanislaus Di-Aping of Sudan, chair of the Group of 77 and China, representing poor nations.

Some leaders and UN officials have said in the past two weeks that governments will not sign a legally binding text at a December 7 to 18 meeting in Copenhagen, aiming instead for a strong political agreement including emissions reductions targets.

This week’s Barcelona meeting was the final UN preparatory meeting but made little progress, re-opening a rich-poor divide and criticism of the United States for not tabling a formal, carbon-cutting offer.

”All G77 member states, Africa have said developed countries have refused to make progress,” Di-Aping told Reuters. ”They’re going further now, managing expectations down, saying we have to continue for another six months.”

A UN climate treaty may need an extra year or more, beyond the original December deadline, delegates said this week.

African nations in Barcelona boycotted the start of some of the talks, saying that planned climate action by the developed world was insufficient. They won support from many developing nations and environmental groups.

”The cuts the industrialised countries have put on the table [are] at the low levels of ambition, scarcely a few more percentage points’ more commitment than they made in the original Kyoto agreement [in 1997],” said Bill Hare, a scientist at Germany’s Potsdam Institute.

The process has entered a difficult phase, he said.

”I think there’s all still to play for in Copenhagen in setting up a strong legally binding agreement, and the process will take at six least to 12 months to complete.”

The Africa boycott delayed until Wednesday the start of negotiations on emissions cuts.

”Making significant progress here in Barcelona is probably not possible, because of the hiccup we had, because of the loss of two days trying to arrive at a solution,” said John Ashe, chair of talks to extend the existing Kyoto Protocol.

”What it means is we’ll have our work cut out in Copenhagen.” — Reuters