- 30th May 2012
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The latest round of international climate change talks finished on Friday in discord and disappointment, with some participants concerned that important progress made last year was being unpicked.
At the talks, countries were supposed to set out a workplan on negotiations that should result in a new global climate treaty, to be drafted by the end of 2015 and to come into force in 2020. But participants told the Guardian they were downbeat, disappointed and frustrated that the decision to work on a new treaty – reached after marathon late-running talks last December in Durban – was being questioned.
China and India, both rapidly growing economies with an increasing share of global emissions, have tried to delay talks on such a treaty. Instead of a workplan for the next three years to achieve the objective of a new pact, governments have only managed to draw up a partial agenda. “It’s incredibly frustrating to have achieved so little,” said one developed country participant. “We’re stepping backwards, not forwards.”
Connie Hedegaard, the EU climate chief, said: “The world cannot afford that a few want to backtrack from what was agreed in Durban only five months ago. Durban was – and is – a delicately balanced package where all elements must be delivered at the same pace. It is not a pick and choose menu. It is very worrisome that attempts to backtrack have been so obvious and time-consuming in the Bonn talks over the last two weeks.”
There was also little progress on the key issue of the financing by rich countries of actions in the developing world. Meeting in Bonn, negotiators and officials from around the world haggled over the set-up of a ‘Green Climate Fund’ that would channel cash from the developed world to poorer countries, to help them cut greenhouse gas emissions and cope with the effects of climate change.
However, they agreed much of the detail that will be needed to extend the Kyoto protocol – currently the world’s only legally binding treaty on emissions cuts – beyond 2012 when its current provisions expire. That extension should be finalised at a conference in Doha, Qatar, this November – but may not be if the EU does not see sufficient progress in negotiations on the proposed new post-2020 treaty.
Chrisiana Figueres, the top climate change official at the United Nations, who presided over the two weeks of talks, said: “Work at this session has been productive. Countries can now press on to ensure elements are in place to adopt the Doha amendment to the Kyoto protocol. I am pleased to say that the Bonn meeting produced more clarity on the protocols’s technical and legal details and options to enable a smooth transition between the two commitment periods of the protocol.”
However, the only major developed countries that have agreed to continue the Kyoto protocol are those of the European Union. Canada and Japan have dropped out, and the US never ratified the 1997 accord.