UN’s climate chief warns of real risk of failure at climate change talks
Yvo de Boer says process too slow to reach deal at close of meeting in Bonn aimed at trimming 200-page draft treaty
David Adam, environment correspondent
guardian.co.uk, Friday 14 August 2009 18.16 BST
Cooling towers at Eggborough power station, near Selby. Photograph: John Giles/PA
A new global treaty on climate change is unlikely unless negotiations accelerate, the UN’s top climate change official warned today. Speaking at the close of another meeting intended to lay the ground for a new deal, Yvo de Boer, head of the UN climate secretariat said there was a real risk of failure.
According to Reuters, he said: “If we continue at this rate we’re not going to make it.” De Boer said the week-long meeting in Bonn had made only “selective progress” towards trimming a huge 200-page draft treaty text.
He warned that just 15 days of negotiations remain before key UN talks begin in December in Copenhagen at meetings in Bangkok in September and October and Barcelona in November.
The Bonn talks were not expected to make a significant breakthrough. Observers said there was little movement on the key issues of new curbs on greenhouse gas pollution and funds to help poorer nations cope with global warming.
“It is clear that there is quite a significant uphill battle if we are going to get there,” said Jonathan Pershing, head of the US delegation, according to Reuters. But he said there were some signs of movement. “You absolutely can get there,” he said.
“Delegates spent too much time arguing over procedures and technicalities. This is not the way to overcome mistrust between rich and poor nations,” said Kim Carstensen, head of WWF Global Climate Initiative. “Delegates are kept back by political gridlock. The political leaders must now unblock the process.”
Mike Childs, head of climate change at Friends of the Earth, said: “Rich countries are once again pushing the con of carbon offsetting at UN climate change talks, which means avoiding real action through dodgy accounting and putting pitifully inadequate targets on the table. Not only does this do nothing to protect people from the threat of runaway climate change, it means the UK will miss out on the new green jobs and industries that would be created by moving to a safe, clean, low-carbon future.”
The talks closed as India said the new global climate change agreement should ban trade barriers erected by rich countries against those that refuse to accept limits on their carbon emissions.
India suggested a clause to bar any country from taking action against another country’s goods and services based on its climate policy. The clause is largely directed against efforts by US Congress to impose trade penalties on countries that do not commit to specific action against greenhouse gases. India’s chief delegate Shyam Saran said such measures looked like “protectionism under a green label,” and were complicating the latest round of climate negotiations in Bonn.
Trade issues are “extraneous to what we are trying to construct here, which is a collaborative response to an extraordinary global challenge,” Saran told the Associated Press.