U.N. Climate Talks Need Quicker Pace For Global Deal
Author: Nina Chestney
U.N. climate talks this week urgently need to focus and speed up as time runs out to secure a global deal on combat climate change by the end of the year, delegates at the opening of negotiations on Monday said.
There are only 11 working days of talks left until a U.N. summit in Cancun this November to agree on extending or replacing the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.
"There is a lot of interest this week to pick up the pace and move with resolution toward Cancun," U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres told reporters.
The existing agreement caps the carbon dioxide emissions of almost 40 developed countries from 2008-2012. However, new targets need the agreement of at least 143 countries -- or three quarters of the pact's parties.
A summit in Copenhagen last year ended with a weak agreement and delegates on Monday do not want a repetition this year.
"General debate is not sufficient. We are running out of time. We need to enter as soon as possible into negotiations on actual actions," said Huikang Huang, China's special representative for climate change talks.
In an attempt to break the deadlock, the chair of a U.N. working group will be consulting with governments this week on whether to use the protocol's current text as a negotiating document going forward.
"The chair will begin consultations this week. Parties will have to decide whether they consider this an option and when they will decide on it," Figueres said.
So far, a deal has been out of reach due to vagueness about emissions reduction targets and a timeline for achieving them, finance for developing countries and monitoring emissions cuts.
A draft document published by the U.N. in July did nothing to allay such concerns, leading some to believe that global consensus is a long way off.
Figueres said the main focus this week will be to transform public pledges into quantified emissions cuts. Some developing countries have accused industrialized nations of trying to avoid putting numbers to their pledges.
"We should not get distracted by other considerations and delay action. (Developed nations) must agree on consistent emissions cuts," said India's special representative.
Contingency options for if the world cannot agree on a new climate pact will also be discussed this week.
In a July document, the U.N. set out proposals for tweaks to the treaty, such as cutting the number of countries required to approve any new targets or extending the existing caps to 2013 or 2014.
The European Union is examining whether such options are practical.
"It would mean a new ratification process in the EU and such processes can take far more than one year," EU representative Artur Runge-Metzger told reporters.
To avoid further wrangling between developing nations and developed countries over emissions cuts, there could be two separate deals which co-exist, he added.
One would cover parties already under the Kyoto Protocol, while the other would be a legal instrument covering the remaining parties, Runge-Metzger said.
"The two protocol solution is one way of moving forward."
(Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton)