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EU allies with vulnerable nations at climate talks

Published on 09/12/2011

Europe on Friday joined some 85 of the world's most vulnerable nations in an alliance to lobby for a new global pact on greenhouse gases on the last day of the UN climate talks here.

The coalition, spanning some of the world’s richest and poorest countries, is seeking to push the United States, China and India into accepting a mandate for a new accord embracing all major carbon emitters.

“The least developed countries, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and the European Union are united in their desire for an ambitious outcome in Durban,” the three blocs said in a joint statement.

“We believe that the world has had a lot of time to think. What we need is not more thinking. What we need is more action.”

The statement called for a new round of pledges under the Kyoto Protocol, and a “robust mandate and roadmap for a legally binding instrument.”

Going into the talks, Kyoto — the only international curb on greenhouse gases — was hanging by a thread.

Key countries had annonced their refusal to renew carbon-cutting pledges at the end of next year when the treaty’s first round of cuts expires.

The EU said it would renew its vows, but only if major emitters — including the US and China — would commit to forging a new climate deal by 2015.

For AOSIS nations and many poor African states already suffering climate impacts, that was not soon enough.

But these nations finally joined with the EU to pressure the US and BASIC countries, China, India, Brazil and South Africa. The statement, however, does not specify a date for a new pact.

“The gap between our ambitions and the current pledges is simply too wide,” the statement said.

“The facts are clear and we are still too far from where we need to be to secure the most vulnerable countries’ right to sustainable development.”

Current voluntary pledges running to 2020 to reduce CO2 emissions fall far short of what is needed to prevent the planet from heating up by more than 2.0 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) beyond pre-industrial levels, scientists say.

“What we need is to effective`ly stop climate change,” the communique said.

“And that can only happen if all parties to the UNFCCC process will be committed to concrete efforts.”

The statement had been trailed late Thursday in a press briefing by European ministers and counterparts from the developing world.