Nations differ over emission cuts, climate talks deadlocked

Nations differ over emission cuts, climate talks deadlocked

Bali: The climate change talks to delineate a new agreement on emission reduction commitments that will come to effect after 2012 are in a stalemate, according to the Indian delegation at the United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference.

“The draft text for a new climate change agreement is a non-starter. The developed countries are not even talking about a multilateral agreement," said Kapil Sibal, Union minister for science and technology and earth sciences, who is leading the Indian delegation at the talks in Bali.

The high-powered ministerial segment of the conference opened on Wednesday. Some 144 ministers and six heads of the state have gathered here to try to?hammer out a a concrete plan by 2009.

The draft text has been the source of laboured deliberations, which have gone on way past midnight this week. In spite of extended debate, the working group was unable to reach a consensus. “The whole issue is completely open now and it seems quite difficult to reach a consensus," said an Indian delegate, who asked not to be identified.

The US continues to stick to its stance. “Different countries are looking at how this has ramifications for them. There is a pre-judgement rather than a consensus in the draft text. We are trying to get everyone involved in what is the best that all can agree to," said Paula Dobriansky, undersecretary, democracy and global affairs in the US’ state department, and head of the US delegation.

The countries are deadlocked over the issue of committing to a range of reductions, which is a 25-40% cut in cabon dioxide emissions from 1990 levels by 2040 for developed nations. The US delegation has said this is a pre-determined range and they cannot agree to it. “We’re seeking more countries to agree to the action and not divide countries further. Mid-term goals and targets need to be informed about technical feasibility and commercial viability," added Dobriansky.

Differences have also risen over efforts by some member countries to merge both the Kyoto Protocol and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) into a “one-track" dialogue. Under the former, developed nations voluntarily accepted and decided the levels of emission cuts. In the case of UNFCC, it has been decided that developed nations bear more responsibility and hence, have to accept larger emission cuts.

Some countries are now looking to eject the differentiated clause from the framework. If successful, it would imply that developed and developing nations mandate equal emission cuts. “India is absolutely opposed to this. When presented with this option, we clearly said that if you are veering away from the two-track process, then it is non-negotiable," added Sibal.

The group of developed countries is now suggesting an agreement with only national goals under the UN framework, but no multilateral agreement on emission cuts, said Sibal. “The deadline of 2009 for a new deal is unachievable." But the European Union is hopeful of an outcome. “We have... reached the defining stage of the negotiations. We are moving from technical issues to key political talks," said Guido Sacconi, chair of the European Parliament’s temporary committee on climate change. He added that the draft text was acceptable and it must not be watered down.

Meanwhile, an informal group, including Germany, New Zealand, Costa Rica and Norway, announced on Wednesday that they also want developing countries to take emission cuts. “Differentiated responsibility doesn’t mean no responsibility. We need to take action and clean technology won’t be developed in Chad or Malawi. So, while we take targets, we’re being generous by not asking the same of the rest of the world," said Norway’s environment minister, Eric Solheim.