Talks won’t arrest global warming in next decade: UN climate chief

June 7th, 2010 - 9:21 pm ICT by IANS  

By Joydeep Gupta
Bonn, June 7 (IANS) The ongoing global climate negotiations will not lead to “adequate mitigation targets” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the coming decades, but will eventually do so, UN climate chief Yvo de Boer predicted here Monday.

Addressing a press conference at the mid-point of the May 31-June 11 talks here to prepare for the next climate summit in Mexico this November, de Boer said: “I don’t see the (negotiating) process delivering adequate mitigation targets in the next decade. But I see it ‘ever’ doing it.”

The executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) based his prognosis on the pronouncements at the last climate summit in Copenhagen, where, he pointed out, “industrialised country leaders were in favour of reducing (greenhouse gas emissions) 80 percent by 2050 and there was recognition by developing country leaders that they have to control emissions” too.

While members of the Indian government delegation said there was not much progress at the talks here, de Boer said he had found a “positive spirit” among representatives of 194 countries, something that had been conspicuously lacking at the Copenhagen summit. There had been “good progress” over technical issues, he added, but “a number of hot political issues are very much stuck and need to be addressed”.

As scientists say climate change is accelerating and is already reducing farm output, making droughts, floods and storms more frequent and more severe and raising the sea level, the UN climate chief - who is leaving his position at the end of the month - said the problem was that there was no consensus about what the negotiators were working towards.

“If we are working towards a legally binding accord (for industrialised countries to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases that are causing global warming), the question is - legally binding for whom, and how do you enforce such an accord,” he asked.

De Boer also pointed to the main reason for distrust between developed and developing countries - nobody here is sure of what is happening to the $30 billion the rich countries promised over the next three years so that poor countries, the ones facing the worst impacts of climate change, could adapt to it. “We need the $30 billion to flow for rebuilding confidence in the negotiating process,” he said.

Julie-Ann Richards of the NGO umbrella group Climate Action Network (CAN) said the $30 billion was not new money but “aid being recycled, which breaks promises and risks undermining political will”.

Saleemul Huq of the International Institute for Environment and Development said the NGOs were also worried because there was still no agreement on who would administer the funds. Industrialised countries wanted the money to be administered by the Global Environment Facility that had been set up by various UN bodies and the World Bank, but developing countries wanted the money to be under the control of the UNFCCC. Huq said CAN supported the developing countries’ position.

There was another new source of friction in the complicated climate talks, this one over how rich countries should measure how they were arresting deforestation in their own countries.

Delegates from poor countries and NGOs have complained that the rich countries have left vital loopholes in the measurement process. Richards of CAN said: “Industrialised countries are trying to make fraudulent rules to measure their deforestation” and demanded change.

De Boer said “the concern is that the accounting rules being proposed are not environmentally sound” but he did not think it was intentional. “I don’t think anybody wants that, but we have to get it right.”

Most delegates felt the complex climate negotiations that impinge upon economic development in almost all countries remain as fractious as ever.

(Joydeep Gupta can be contacted at

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