UN Climate Tension Stoked by Nations’ Lack of Empathy, E3G Says

United Nations climate talks will fail unless nations put aside their indifference toward other countries’ emission-reduction efforts, according to Third Generation Environmentalism Ltd.

While countries are “highly articulate” about their obstacles to tackling climate change, they are generally dismissive of the constraints faced by other countries, the London-based environmental policy adviser known as E3G said in a report published on its website.

“This lack of empathy underlies much of the tension in climate change debates,” according to Nick Mabey, Liz Gallagher and Camilla Born, the report’s authors. “Since 2009, climate diplomacy has suffered a stagnation, and in some cases reduction, of capacity in many countries.”

Without agreement on increased efforts to cut greenhouse gases, the ability to limit temperature gains to less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) from pre-industrial levels will disappear, E3G said. UN envoys meet in Warsaw starting Nov. 11 to lay the groundwork for talks on a climate treaty in Paris in 2015, due to come into force five years later.

Negotiators need to stop talking about nations as “unitary actors” because country positions emerge from complex negotiations between government departments, industry lobby groups and politicians, according to the report.

“Unsurprisingly, this means that most countries have major inconsistencies in their national positions on climate change,” E3G said. “For example, the European Union has outlawed domestic coal subsidies, but its development bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, is providing concessional loans to build coal power plants in EU-candidate countries.”

E3G, founded in 2004, is funded by groups including the Shell Foundation, Greenpeace, the European Commission and the U.K. and German governments.

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