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Topics - May 23, 2012
Climate Politics
EU warns climate talks at risk of floundering

BONN, May 23, 2012 (AFP) - Europe warned at climate talks in Bonn on Wednesday that efforts to forge a new global pact to avert environmental disaster were in danger of floundering, and some pointed fingers at China.

Nine days into talks meant to set the stage for a United Nations gathering in Qatar in December, where countries must adopt an amendment to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, negotiators complained that procedural bickering was quashing progress hopes. With only two days left in this negotiating round, the parties have failed to appoint a chairperson or agree on an agenda for a newly established body dubbed the ADP tasked with overseeing the drafting of a new pact by 2015. "If this slow pace of negotiations continues ... it poses the risk of unraveling the Durban package," Danish chief negotiator Christian Pilgaard Zinglersen warned on behalf of the Council of the European Union. He was referring to an agreement reached in South Africa last year to bind all countries under a new pact from 2020 to curbing Earth-warming greenhouse gas emissions, not just developed nations as is the case now. Pilgaard told the Bonn gathering that some parties seemed to want to rehash issues that have already been settled. "We are very concerned that the spirit of cooperation that prevailed in Durban has not carried over into this session," the diplomat said.

As countries bicker, researchers recently predicted Earth's temperature rising by as much as five degrees Celsius (9.0 degrees Fahrenheit) from pre-industrial levels, instead of the 2 C (3.6 F) limit being targeted. While rich nations bear most of the historical responsibility for global warming, their place is being taken by emerging giants such as China, India and Brazil who emit massive amounts of carbon as they strive to rise out of poverty. These countries will also have to meet emissions curb under a new deal, but some fear the restrictions may slown down their economic growth machines. French climate ambassador Serge Lepeltier said of the Bonn talks that China "gives the impression of having hardened its positions since Durban".

Wael Hmaidan, the director of activist group Climate Action Network added that China was "blocking the ADP" out of fear that rich nations were trying to shift more of the emissions curbing burden onto developing nations than was historically fair. "Since the ADP has no firewall between developed and developing countries, that means they will have the same kind of commitments as developed countries under the ADP," said Hmaidan, himself taking part in the talks. "This is where the fight is."


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