Climate Envoys Urge Faster Talks as Global Deal Deadline Nears

  • Representatives worldwide meet in Bonn to prepare climate deal
  • Seven negotiating days left before UN conference in Paris

Climate envoys across the globe urged a faster pace of talks with only seven days left for formal negotiations before a December conference where nations aim to reach a global agreement to rein in pollution.

Representatives worldwide are meeting this week in Bonn, Germany, for a penultimate round of technical talks before a United Nations gathering set for Nov. 30 through Dec. 11 in Paris. Forging a landmark accord among 200 nations is a monumental task, with the talks bogging down in disagreements between industrialized and developing countries.

While some progress has been made in the past three days, it’s not yet enough, and the negotiating process needs to improve, said a representative of South Africa, speaking on behalf of the G-77 group of developing countries and China.

“Progress has been uneven, and some groups still have not progressed beyond some conceptual debates we’ve been having for years,” she told the envoys at a session requested by G-77 to take stock of the talks so far.

The Paris deal aims to be the first to impose obligations on both developed and developing countries. It is intended to build on the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which required pollution reductions only in industrialized nations and set no limits for developing ones like China and India, where emissions have skyrocketed.

Bigger Burden

Points of contention include the principle enshrined in past agreements of “common, but differentiated responsibilities.” Countries including South Africa, China and India read that as placing a steeper burden to cut pollution on richer nations, while industrialized members object to that interpretation, saying the dispute has become an excuse by their developing peers to reduce their responsibilities.

Other thorny issues involve rules on technology transfer, climate finance and provisions for a loss-and-damage mechanism that would help developing countries cope with the effects of climate change.

Concerns about the pace of talks were also expressed by India, the Alliance of Small Island States and the Umbrella group, whose members include Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and the U.S. The groups clash even on negotiating methods, with India calling for text-based talks and Australia questioning the helpfulness of line-by-line debates.

The next five-day negotiating session, the last before the gathering in Paris, is set for October.

“We’re running out of time,” said a representative of the 28-nation European Union. “In October, we need to negotiate on a concise draft agreement and associated draft decisions.”

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