UN climate talks resume, negotiation stalled

BONN, Germany - U.N. climate talks resumed on Monday exposing familiar rifts between rich and poor nations which delegates said would delay the start of formal negotiations.

By (Reuters)

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Published: Mon 31 May 2010, 10:11 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 3:44 AM

The 185-nation Bonn conference, which runs until June 11, is the biggest international climate meeting since a summit last December in Copenhagen failed to agree on a new deal to combat global warming, succeeding the Kyoto Protocol after 2012.

The Copenhagen summit last December struggled to overcome suspicions on sharing a global effort to curb greenhouse gases.

Differences resurfaced on Monday when Latin American countries, the United States and South Africa said they could not launch negotiations on the basis of a text published in mid-May, which outlines a huge range of options for fighting climate change.

“Our view is that the text is (an) effort to elicit views so she can develop a formal negotiating text,” said Jonathan Pershing, head of the U.S. delegation, referring to the chair of the talks, Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe of Zimbabwe.

“It’s a constructive next step.”

Chief South African delegate Alf Wills said the document put too much burden on developing nations, devoting a whole chapter to emissions curbs by the South but not the North. “It’s completely unbalanced in that respect,” he said.

However Karsten Sach, leader of Germany’s delegation, said: “We think it is a basis for negotiation.”

Zimbabwe’s Mukahanana-Sangarwe is expected to publish a revised version by Saturday, delegates said.

It remained to be seen whether negotiations could start on that revised text next week, Pershing told Reuters. South Africa’s Wills said formal talks may have to wait until August.


A Latin American group including Bolivia, Venezuela and Cuba said the new text over-emphasised the non-binding Copenhagen accord, which they had opposed in December, and urged tougher cuts on the rich.

The accord, which some 120 countries have since supported, seeks to limit a rise in average world temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F) over pre-industrial times but does not spell out how.

Underlining disappointment at Copenhagen, the outgoing head of the U.N. climate secretariat, Yvo de Boer, confirmed reports that in an internal U.N. memo after the December summit he had said: “We needed a cake ... What we ended up with was a muffin”.

One way to ease distrust, de Boer said on Monday, was for industrialised nations to start spending the $30 billion they had pledged from 2010-2012 under the accord to help the most vulnerable nations face more droughts and floods.

Development group Oxfam on Monday published a report urging rich countries to deliver grants not loans under the accord.

However, European Union negotiators said on Monday that more than a third of the bloc’s 2.4 billion euros ($2.94 billion) pledged for 2010 would be in soft loans, not grants.

One specific gap to be addressed in Bonn was whether developed countries should be allowed to exclude carbon emissions from chopping trees to produce renewable energy.

The head of Papua New Guinea’s delegation, Kevin Conrad, called that “fraudulent accounting”. The co-head of the EU delegation, Artur Runge-Metzger, told Reuters that such loopholes must be closed, under “harmonised” reporting rules.

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