Building blocks missing for 2015 climate pact: ministers

6th June 2014, Comments 0 comments

The clock is ticking for countries to lay foundations for a 2015 deal on curbing greenhouse gases, ministers said in Bonn Friday.

A special UN summit in September, followed by a round of talks on global warming in Lima in December, must lay the first bricks of a highly complex accord due to be sealed in Paris in December 2015, they said.

China's top negotiator, Xie Zhenhua, pointed to traumatic memories of the 2009 Copenhagen Summit, the last time countries tried to forge a worldwide deal on curbing Earth-warming greenhouse gas emissions.

The much-touted event became a near-fiasco when heads of state were confronted with a sprawling, fiercely-contested draft agreement at the last minute.

"We hope we do not see a recurrence of the Copenhagen scenario... (with) a final agreement that is accepted by some parties but not accepted by others," Xie said.

Peruvian Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, who will chair the December meeting, urged colleagues gathered for an interim round of negotiations in Bonn since Wednesday to "commit to commit."

"This train is moving and we cannot wait until Paris to get onboard," he said.

- Years of haggling -

The Paris agreement is meant to end years of haggling among the 195 parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Taking effect from 2020, the pact must curb heat-trapping emissions from fossil fuels that are damaging Earth's fragile climate, amplifying the risks from drought, flooding, storms and rising seas.

Negotiators hope that, at the very least, the Lima deal will agree on rules for vetting and comparing national pledges that will form the core of the pact.

The pledges will be a disparate mix of promises to curb emissions, bolster climate defences, boost funds for vulnerable countries and transfer cleaner technology to the developing world.

There is a big technical challenge in ensuring that individual national efforts are verifiable and comparable, to avoid accusations that some countries are getting a free ride.

The pact's legal status -- whether it should be legally binding or not, and what the term actually means -- is also not settled.

The 12-day session in Bonn included two ministerial-level sessions meant to give a political boost to the troubled process.

Ministers from several dozen countries attended, but there were several absentees among the big players, including the United States and France, the 2015 host.

Many hopes ride on a summit in New York on September 23 called by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Campaigners for 73 environmental and development causes, meanwhile, formally returned to the UNFCCC process after walking out at the annual conference in Warsaw in 2013.

"We have come together to reiterate to all 'leaders' participating in the UN climate negotiations that they are dangerously off track in addressing the climate emergency," the group said in a statement.

"We call upon them to listen to the demands and solutions of people."

The UN talks are aimed at reducing warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial levels or less -- but scientists say current emission trends could hike temperatures to more than twice that level by the end of the century.

© 2014 AFP

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