Rich Nations Need to Ante-Up in Climate Talks: UN

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Reuters

Rich Nations Need to Ante-Up in Climate Talks: UN

by
David Fogarty and Chisa Fujioka

An activist pretends to cut off the head of an effigy of U.S. President Barack Obama during a demonstration outside the United Nations Building in Bangkok, where talks on climate change are being held, October 5, 2009. (REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom)

BANGKOK - Poorer countries are helping shape a broader
pact to fight climate change but their efforts are being stymied by
rich nations' lack of commitment on finance and tougher emissions cuts,
the U.N. said on Thursday.

Funding to help poorer nations is a make-or-break issue in
negotiations to seal a broader climate pact to replace the Kyoto
Protocol at a summit in Copenhagen in December.

Poorer nations are demanding cash to help them adapt to the effects
of climate change, such as rising seas, and green their economies to
slow the rapid rise of their carbon emissions.

But there is still no agreement on the size of climate funds or how to manage them.

"There has to be a quid pro quo, you have to see a significant
advance on the finance. Otherwise, what's the point?" Yvo de Boer, the
head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat told reporters on Thursday
in the Thai capital.

He said developing nations had shown "very constructive engagement"
in designing parts of a new agreement covering steps to curb emissions,
adaptation, technology and a U.N. carbon credit scheme that rewards
preservation of forests.

But rich nations remained a roadblock, he said.

"Unless we see an advance on ambitious industrialized country
targets and significant finance on the table, it is very difficult for
negotiators in this process to continue their work in good faith. And
that is the stark reality of where we are at the moment."

Delegates at marathon climate talks in Bangkok that end on Friday
are trying to trim down a complex draft text that will form the basis
of a new climate agreement.

LEFT TO LAST MINUTE

After Friday, officials from nearly 200 countries have only five
formal negotiating days left before the December 7-18 Copenhagen
meeting and anxiety is growing that too many critical issues are being
left until the last-minute. A five-day negotiation session is set for
Barcelona early next month.

Drawing in big developing nations such as China, the world's top
carbon emitter, India, Indonesia and Brazil into a new agreement is
critical if the world is to avoid the worst impacts of climate change,
the U.N. says. Total emissions from poorer nations now exceed those
from rich countries.

"I think a number the developing countries feel that they have been
putting a lot of initiatives on the table," Alden Meyer of the Union of
Concerned Scientists told Reuters.

Brazil has pledged an 80 percent reduction in deforestation by 2020,
Indonesia has said it would craft a policy to cut emissions by 26
percent by 2020 from "business as usual" levels and China has said its
carbon intensity -- the amount of carbon emitted per unit of energy
consumed -- would come down by a notable margin by 2020 from 2005
levels.

"They don't see the Northern side putting much on the table," Meyer said.

"If people don't start showing their cards there's not going to be a
card game in Copenhagen. It's like we're kicking over the table because
no one wants to play the game," he added.

Rich nations say they are willing to offer financing and other
measures but that poorer countries must formally put their pledges to
curb emissions on the negotiating table and add them to a binding
international climate treaty.

(Editing by Alex Richardson)

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