Free Press Journal

Climate negotiators regroup after rocky start to key talks


Bonn (Germany): Diplomats crafting a global climate pact will today try to bounce back from an acrimonious start to the final negotiating session before a UN summit to seal the ambitious deal. There were heated moments as the talks opened yesterday when developing nations accused rich ones of sidelining their interests, even as UN chief Ban Ki-moon warned: “We don’t have any ‘plan B’ because we don’t have any ‘planet B’.”

The five-day meeting in the German city of Bonn must craft a workable blueprint for the climate rescue pact to be signed at the November 30-December 11 summit in Paris, meant to crown more than two decades of fraught negotiations. It must serve as a working document for ministers and heads of state who need to take the tough political decisions needed for the agreement to take shape.

But instead of getting down to line-by-line bartering yesterday, the crucial first day of the 195-nation talks was spent rehashing well-rehearsed divides between rich and developing nations, with Ban describing the process as “frustrating”.

The vast G77 developing nation bloc, led by South Africa, complained of “apartheid” treatment at the hands of rich nations, saying their core demands had been summarily excised from the draft. The document had been slimmed down from 80 pages to 20 by two diplomats guiding the process.

But the 130-plus G77 group of countries, which include China and India, insisted on reinserting dropped phrases on finance and fairness, a process which took the whole day and grew the text back again to 34 pages. In Paris, French President Francois Hollande cautioned against an empty deal coming out of the forthcoming summit, saying countries’ actions will have to be reviewed “regularly” to make sure progress is being made.

“There will be a deal in Paris. The question is at what level the agreement will be reached,” he said. A key pillar of the pact will be a list of national pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels.

Scientists warn that pledges submitted by more than 150 nations so far place Earth on course for warming closer to 3 C – a world of dangerous rises in sea levels, superstorms and the spread of disease. A key disagreement at the talks concerns a mechanism to regularly review and ramp up countries’ actions so that the 2 C goal is achieved.

Another cause for dispute is developing countries’ demand for money to finance a shift to less carbon-polluting economies, and to shore up their defences against the impact of climate change.