UN climate chief: Time for wealthy nations to act

UN climate chief: Time for wealthy nations to act

Poor nations have made serious proposals to combat global warming and it is time for wealthier countries to give their own commitments to cut greenhouse gasses, the UN’s climate chief said today.

Delegates from around the world have gathered in Bangkok to try to hammer out the details of a global climate proposal that is supposed to be completed in time for meetings in Copenhagen in December to agree new pact replacing the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

The Bangkok talks, which started yesterday and will last two weeks, have already begun to take on the tone of previous meetings that have pitted rich, industrialised nations against poorer, developing nations, with each side accusing the other of shirking their responsibility for turning the tide on climate change.

UN climate chief Yvo de Boer said there was growing frustration from some developing countries that their promises of action have not been met with financial commitments from rich countries or the acceptance of greater emissions cuts for industrialised countries.

“Developing countries are making very significant efforts to show what they are doing to address climate change and indicate what more they are willing to do,” Mr de Boer said. “We’ve had this dragging debate for two years on what further commitments industrial countries can take under Kyoto Protocol. That debate needs to be brought to a conclusion.”

Talks have been deadlocked for months over the industrial countries’ refusal to commit to sufficiently deep cuts or provide billions of dollars to poor nations to help them adapt to the impacts of climate change and transition to a low-carbon economy.

The major developing countries like India and China, in turn, have refused to agree to binding targets altogether and are wary of demands that any of their commitments be monitored and verified as part of any agreement.

There are now only 69 days left to reach a deal before Copenhagen and delegates are hoping the two weeks of talks in Bangkok will reduce an unwieldy, 200-page draft agreement to around 30 pages.

Most industrialised nations have offered to cut emissions 15 to 23% below 1990 levels by 2020, falling short of the 25 to 40% cuts scientists say are needed to hold off warming of 2C.

But the United States has offered much lower targets so far, with a House of Representatives bill proposing to reduce emissions by 17% from 2005 levels - only about 4% below 1990 levels – by 2020. The Senate has yet to take up the climate bill.

Along with the calls for 25% to 40% cuts from developing countries, the draft agreement spells out that poor nations reduce their emissions from 15% to 30% by 2020 below what they would otherwise be if they did nothing as long as rich countries provide them financing.

In recent months, a growing list of developing countries have unveiled actions aimed at reducing their emissions. Brazil has promised to reduce its deforestation significantly while China and India have rolled out plans to increase their use of renewable energy such as solar and wind power while boosting their energy efficiency and protecting their forests.

Mexico, South Africa and Indonesia also have promised emissions cuts.

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