New Delhi/Bonn: The latest round of climate change talks got off to a rough start in Bonn with India, China, and the Group of 77, a group of developing nations, objecting to the text prepared by the United Nations (UN) that would set the framework for the talks.
The reason: the text, the starting point for the negotiations, isn’t aligned with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Bali Action Plan (BAP), which was agreed upon in the Bali round of climate change talks in 2007.
This round of talks, which started on Monday, will run till 12 June and is one of the five meetings in the run-up to the annual climate change talks in Copenhagen in December.
But the hard political decisions were likely to be taken at top-level meetings outside the UN framework. Heads of state are due to confer on climate issues at least four times before the Copenhagen conference.
“The signals have to come from above to start the process,” said environmental activist Jennifer Morgan of the E3G think tank.
The Copenhagen agreement would succeed and expand on the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which required 37 industrial nations to cut emissions blamed for global warming by a total of 5% by 1990, but made no obligations on any other country.
The US rejected the Kyoto deal, partly because it excluded developing economies. Reversing that policy, the administration of President Barack Obama has pledged to take a leading role in crafting the next climate deal.
Mint had reported on 19 May that the Bonn round of talks was likely to be tough.
The talks are important because they will help create the first draft of a new global warming treaty.
Delegates have been brainstorming and arguing over principles for 18 months.
The draft includes conflicting proposals pointing to tough negotiations ahead. Among dozens of unresolved issues was whether developing economies must commit to controlling their greenhouse gas emissions and whether their commitments would be legally binding or voluntary.
The US delegation wanted the text to put all countries on a more equal footing, requiring every country to take action to fight climate change according to its capability. Developing countries said the draft failed to take adequate note of their proposals.
Under UNFCCC and BAP, emission reduction and climate stabilization are linked with the actions taken in terms of adaptation, mitigation, provision of financial resources and technology development and transfer. The framework, however, isolates the key issues and deals with them sequentially.
India, according to a senior government official who did not want to be identified, also objected to the inclusion in the negotiating text of submissions made by countries well after the deadline for doing so, and the merging of the key issues of direct financial support and technical transfer from rich countries to poor ones into one issue.
India also argued that the question of stabilization (either of greenhouse gas concentrations or temperature rise) is inseparably linked to that of an equitable allocation of the global atmospheric resource and the shared vision should conform to these principles, which were earlier agreed upon.
UN scientists warn that unrestrained emissions of greenhouse gases, mainly from fossil fuels from heavy industry and vehicles, will lead to changes in temperatures and rainfall, putting millions of people at risk of more severe droughts and storms, rising sea levels that could flood coastlines and sink entire islands, cause the extinction of plant and animal species, and increase health hazards for man.
Michael Zammit Cutajar, who compiled the draft from dozens of position paperssubmitted by countries, acknowledged it was “complex” and “messy”, but said hewas pleased with the initial reception.
The draft “represents a significant new step in the talks,” said Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of UNFCCC.
Arthur Max is with AP.