The talks are meant to conclude in Copenhagen in December with a new climate treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol after 2012. One battleground is between industrialized and developing countries on how to split the cost of curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
“How are things looking in terms of that agreement? Worrying,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a carbon trading conference in Copenhagen.
“Countries have not come forward with specific proposals on how aspects of the Copenhagen agreement can work in practice,” he told Reuters, referring to “gaps” in a document meant to form the basis of a legal text.
Before the final session in Copenhagen senior officials from about 190 countries will negotiate that text at a series of meetings, the first held later this month in Bonn.
“I’m not concerned by the mood, about willingness to get the job done, I’m concerned by the amount of time that’s left to get the work done,” de Boer said, adding that recession had made it more difficult to ask finance ministers for help.
Industrialized countries are meant to agree to specific targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. Japan, Ukraine, Switzerland and Russia still had not made offers.
“(A Copenhagen deal) has to include 2020 targets,” said de Boer. “Those numbers need to be ambitious otherwise we’re not close to what science tells us needs to be done.
De Boer said that U.S. President Barack Obama’s goal to bring U.S. greenhouse gases back to 1990 levels by 2020 was a “first good offer.” He declined to comment on what he thought would be a suitable U.S. goal.
Major emerging economies such as China and India were not expected to agree to concrete targets but rich countries want them to agree specific actions.
“We also need clarity on what major developing countries are willing to do to limit the growth of their emissions, and to get that I think finance is essential,” he told Reuters.
De Boer criticized EU finance ministers who appeared to lay conditions on financial help to the South — depending on what specific climate actions developing countries first proposed.
“This is not helpful in moving the world forwards to an agreement in Copenhagen,” he said, and urged EU leaders meeting in Brussels later this week to be more decisive.
“I think without clarity on finance from industrialized countries there will be no commitment from developing countries.”