Apr 14, 2010
Climate change talks yield small chance of global treaty
From the Guardian
A global agreement on climate change is unlikely this year and it may need two separate legal treaties to bring together the US and developing countries, the UN's top climate official has predicted.
The outgoing head of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Yvo de Boer, said there was no chance of reaching a final deal by November in Cancun, Mexico – the next time world leaders will meet to hammer out the a follow-up to the Kyoto protocol.
"The Americans do not want a second round of Kyoto. It is very possible we will see two agreements emerging from Cancun," he said.
De Boer admitted that talks were deadlocked and the pledges made so far by countries to cut emissions fell far short of what was needed to avoid catastrophic global warming.
"They are nowhere near adequate. Industrialised countries must raise the level of their ambition," he said after three days of UN talks in Bonn, the first time countries had met since December's chaotic Copenhagen summit . That meeting ended with sharp divisions between those who backed the US in wanting the Copenhagen accord, pushed through at the end of the summit; and other countries, led by India and China, who said it was undemocratic and inadequate.
Nearly 120 countries, representing 80% of the world's emissions, have signed up to the accord, which seeks to hold global temperatures to a rise of 2 °C by 2050 and would eventually transfer $100 bn (£65 bn) a year from rich to poorer countries, but its status is hotly disputed.
Jonathon Pershing, the lead US negotiator, said that the accord was "a triumph of inclusivity".
"The negotiations in Copenhagen were about a package. We are not prepared to see a process go forward in which certain elements are cherry-picked. That is not the agreement that was reached. To achieve an outcome there must be compromises."
But India, China and many other developing countries argued that the accord had not been adopted by the UN and would not avoid catastrophic climate change.
"The Copenhagen accord is a political document. It cannot have a life of its own and it is not a stand-alone document. It has the potential to assist in building consensus but it cannot substitute the formal outcomes of the UN process", said an Indian diplomat.
In what was interpreted as a major rebuff to the US, Russia and Japan, the G77 (plus China) group of 130 developing countries held off strong attempts to adopt the Copenhagen accord as the base of future negotiations.
All countries will now make new submissions and have agreed to meet for several weeks of intense negotiations before the Mexican summit in November.
About the author
John Vidal is the Guardian's environment editor.