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Updated: November 7, 2009 08:56 IST

Key challenges unresolved at Barcelona climate talks

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United Nations climate chief Yvo de Boer addresses the opening session of the U.N. climate talks on September 28, 2009, in Bangkok.
AP
United Nations climate chief Yvo de Boer addresses the opening session of the U.N. climate talks on September 28, 2009, in Bangkok.

The climate change talks in Barcelona concluded on Friday with little progress being made on two key issues — mid-term emission reduction targets of developed countries and a concrete plan for financing developing nations to limit their emissions.

“Without these two pieces of the puzzle in place, we will not have a deal in Copenhagen. So leadership at the highest level is required to unlock the pieces,” said U.N. Climate change chief Yvo de Boer.

“It is essential that practical action is swiftly implemented after Copenhagen to assist developing countries in their fight against climate change,” he said.

There was, however, some movement on areas of adaptation, technology cooperation, reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries and mechanisms to disburse funds for developing countries.

The last round of negotiations concluded at Barcelona before the conference at Copenhagen in December, which will draw 192 states that are expected to hammer out a new climate treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol since the first commitment period under this treaty ends in 2012.

The science requires an aggregate emission reduction by industrialized countries of between minus 25 per cent and 40 per cent over 1990 levels by 2020 with global emissions falling by at least 50 per cent by 2050. Even under this scenario, there would be an only a 50 per cent chance of avoiding the most catastrophic consequences, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Mr. de Boer noted that developed countries would need to provide fast-track funding on the order of at least $10 billion to enable developing countries for immediate development of low emission growth and adaptation strategies.

“At the same time, developed countries will need to indicate how they intend to raise predictable and sustainable long-term financing and what there longer-term commitments will be,” he said.

Despite the two obvious gaps that stand in the way of an agreement at Copenhagen, the top U.N. official remained optimistic about securing a deal in the Danish capital.

“Copenhagen can and must be the turning point in the international fight against climate change — nothing has changed my confidence in that,” he said.

“A powerful combination of commitment and compromise can and must make this happen,” he said. “I look to industrialised countries to raise their ambitions to meet the scale of the challenge we face.”

Mr. de Boer said the governments needed to take the time from now to the Copenhagen Climate Change talks to develop clarity on key issues required to help the negotiators complete their work, and called on industrialised nations to agree on the amount of short and long-term finance they will commit.

“Negotiators must deliver a final text at Copenhagen which presents a strong, functioning architecture to kick start rapid action in the developing world,” he said.


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