International climate talks ended in Bonn, Germany today with little progress made on key issues and stark divisions remaining between rich and poor nations. The disappointing outcome saw delegates unable to reach agreement on how best to move forward for higher level talks in November and less than one month ahead of the Rio+20 Earth Summit in Brazil.
"There is distrust and there is frustration in the atmosphere," Seyni Nafo, spokesman for a group of African countries, told the Associated Press on Thursday.
Celine Charveriat, advocacy and campaigns director at Oxfam International, told Reuters that discord in Bonn was evidence of "some pretty substantive areas of disagreement." Further quoted in The Guardian, she said: "No progress was made to deliver the financial support that the world's poorest and most vulnerable need to deal with the growing impacts of climate change."
"It's absurd to watch governments sit and point fingers and fight like little kids while the scientists explain about the terrifying impacts of climate change and the fact that we have all the technology we need to solve the problem."
-Tove Maria Ryding, Greenpeace
"At a time when ambitious emission reductions are more urgent than ever," Charveriat continued, "developed countries in Bonn made no progress to close the gap between current climate targets and what is required to avoid the worst of climate change. Developed countries must improve on their current low level of ambition and accept higher reduction targets no later than at the Qatar summit [in November]."
Tove Maria Ryding, coordinator for climate policy at Greenpeace International, also expressed exasperation with the process, saying: "Here in Bonn we've clearly seen that the climate crisis is not caused by lack of options and solutions, but lack of political action. It's absurd to watch governments sit and point fingers and fight like little kids while the scientists explain about the terrifying impacts of climate change and the fact that we have all the technology we need to solve the problem while creating new green jobs."
Meanwhile, ex-diplomat of Argentina and original architect of the Kyoto Protocol, Raul Estrada, told Agence France-Presse he was frustrated by the poor quality of current climate negotiations and disappointed with how nations faltered on their commitments to Kyoto, the only binding international treaty on climate change ever enacted.
"I'm frustrated by those governments with whom we adopted the protocol unanimously in Kyoto, not by consensus but unanimously, and later didn't ratify it like the USA or, having ratified the protocol, now they don't comply with it, like Canada and Italy," said Estrada.
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Procedural wrangling during the two-week session, attended by national negotiating teams below ministerial level, has shown there is mistrust among participants and heaps pressure on ministerial talks in Doha, Qatar, at the end of the year to deliver, observers said.
"When people start fighting about agendas it is a symptom of lack of trust and of some pretty substantive areas of disagreement," said Celine Charveriat, director of advocacy and campaigns at international development charity Oxfam.
The European Union and others have accused China, along with other developing countries, of "procedural blocking" or trying to backtrack on the Durban deal by altering the approach to negotiations.
One initiative, an attempt to bring discussion on emissions cuts by both rich and poor countries into one forum, rather than keep it in two separate negotiating tracks, is no longer an obstacle to progress but others may emerge.
"We cleared a difficult hurdle here. There is no doubt that it will be the first of many, and we must remember that time is not on our side," said Sai Navoti, lead negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States, which represents small nations most vulnerable to global warming.
On the other side, developing countries accuse the United States, the EU and other rich nations of trying to avoid making deeper emissions cuts and dodging increases in finance to help poorer nations deal with climate change.
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The Guardian: Bonn climate talks end in discord and disappointment
"It's incredibly frustrating to have achieved so little. We're stepping backwards, not forwards."
At the talks, countries were supposed to set out a workplan on negotiations that should result in a new global climate treaty, to be drafted by the end of 2015 and to come into force in 2020. But participants told the Guardian they were downbeat, disappointed and frustrated that the decision to work on a new treaty – reached after marathon late-running talks last December in Durban – was being questioned.
China and India, both rapidly growing economies with an increasing share of global emissions, have tried to delay talks on such a treaty. Instead of a workplan for the next three years to achieve the objective of a new pact, governments have only managed to draw up a partial agenda. "It's incredibly frustrating to have achieved so little," said one developed country participant. "We're stepping backwards, not forwards."
Connie Hedegaard, the EU climate chief, said: "The world cannot afford that a few want to backtrack from what was agreed in Durban only five months ago. Durban was – and is – a delicately balanced package where all elements must be delivered at the same pace. It is not a pick and choose menu. It is very worrisome that attempts to backtrack have been so obvious and time-consuming in the Bonn talks over the last two weeks."
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Agence France-Presse: UN climate talks 'stalled', says Kyoto architect
"It seems to me that negotiations are returning to square one," said Raul Estrada, the "father" of the world's only treaty to specify curbs in greenhouse gases, as the first talks for a new global pact took place in Bonn."There is very little science in the discussion, mostly political interests or political arguments trying to use things that were decided 20 or 30 years ago."
In a telephone interview from Buenos Aires this week, Estrada defended his beleaguered accord and said efforts to engineer a replacement were in trouble.
"We are throwing the dice and then we advance three or four places. Then you throw again and you go back. This is the exercise on climate," said the Argentine ex-diplomat who steered the historic 1997 conference which yielded Kyoto's framework.
Kyoto binds 37 rich nations to reducing carbon emissions but does not have any targeted commitments for poor economies.
It is a format that critics say is hopelessly out of date today, given that China, India and Brazil are now giant emitters.
Kyoto's first roster of pledges expires at the end of the year. Renewing it is one of several keys to unlocking a wider deal to be completed by 2015 and take effect by 2020.
Kyoto "is an excellent source of experience for any successor treaty," Estrada said.
He added he had "serious concerns" about the 2020 negotiations launched last December in South Africa under the 194-party UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Senior officials are meeting in Bonn for the first round of talks to follow up the so-called Durban Platform. The 11-day parlay runs until Friday.
"There is very little science in the discussion, mostly political interests or political arguments trying to use things that were decided 20 or 30 years ago," Estrada said.
With climate discussions in a fragile state since the chaotic 2009 Copenhagen Summit, Estrada said political and economic problems at home were preventing many countries from tackling climate change with the urgency it needed.
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