Six days of international talks on climate change ended in disappointment on Saturday, with little sign of progress and host nation China accusing developed nations of backtracking on promises.
“We have made some very modest progress, but unfortunately it is very limited,” U.S. negotiator Jonathan Pershing said after the talks of the UN Climate Change Conference in the Chinese city of Tianjin.
“We did not get a balanced outcome yet,” Mr. Pershing said.
“The lack of progress gives us concern for the prospects for Cancun,” he said, referring to efforts to forge an agreement on binding carbon emissions targets at the UN Climate Summit in Mexico, from November 29 to December 10.
Chinese negotiator Su Wei said “some developed nations” were “trying to rewrite” the Kyoto Protocol on emissions controls, which expires in 2012, and “shun their emission cut obligations.” “That is a retreat from the past meeting. Any moves that aim to overthrow the Kyoto Protocol should be denounced,” Chinese state media quoted Su as saying.
The humanitarian group Oxfam on Saturday urged developed nations to give ground in negotiations over a planned global climate change fund, warning that the talks had reached a “crunch point.” “Establishing a new Global Climate Fund that is fair, accessible and accountable, and agreeing on a pathway for a binding agreement, are essential building blocks that must be achieved in Cancun,” Kelly Dent, Oxfam’s senior climate change advisor, said.
“It is crucial that rich countries don’t hold the climate fund hostage to progress in other areas of the negotiations,” she said.
“Treating the new fund as a bargaining chip will only result in deadlock and more suffering for vulnerable people in poor countries.” At the Copenhagen climate summit in December, rich countries promised to put up to 100 billion dollars a year into the fund. But they have been slow to contribute to the fund’s start-up budget, which requires 30 billion dollars by 2012.
This week’s talks brought together 2,500 participants from 160 nations for the first UN climate conference to be hosted by China, the world’s most-populous country, which has overtaken the United States as the largest energy user and emitter of greenhouse gases.
The World Wide Fund for Nature warned that reductions in global carbon emissions are on course to fall far short of the levels needed to avoid “catastrophic” climate change.
“Global greenhouse gas emissions under current policy settings could be up to nearly one-third more in 2020 than the trend needed to avoid catastrophic climate change,” it said in a report based on scientific forecasts and current national targets for emissions.
The report cited research suggesting that global carbon dioxide emissions should be limited to 40 billion tonnes in 2020, but it said current targets projected total emissions of between 47.9 billion tonnes and 53.6 billion tonnes.