UN's Talks in China on Climate Change Show Little Progress, Bolivia Says

Stuart Biggs

United Nations talks in China aimed at reaching an agreement to mitigate climate change are making little progress, according to Pablo Solon, the head of Bolivia’s delegation to the meeting.

Delegations are avoiding discussion over the content of the negotiating text by introducing new proposals, while there’s been no movement on the “insufficient” pledges by developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, Solon, Bolivia’s Ambassador to the UN, said today.

Officials from 177 governments are meeting in Tianjin, China to move forward on a climate treaty for when emissions targets set by the Kyoto Protocol expire at the end of 2012. Talks in Copenhagen broke down last year over issues including setting a global emissions reduction target and Solon said little progress is possible unless developed countries pledge bigger cuts.

“We don’t see any kind of movement from developed countries to increase the level of emissions reduction,” Solon said. “If we had a set of commitments that assured developing countries that the measures will cool the planet, these talks would be moving very well.”

The week-long talks are the last before envoys meet in Cancun, Mexico between Nov. 29 and Dec. 10 to try to reach an agreement that the UN climate chief, Christiana Figueres, has said is unlikely this year.

The climate summit in Copenhagen failed to produce a binding agreement even after leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama flew in to reach a deal.

Draft Proposals

Delegates this week are negotiating two draft proposals reached at a meeting in Bonn in August that need to be narrowed before Cancun, Figueres, executive secretary of the so-called UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, told reporters earlier this week.

“Very few paragraphs” have changed, Solon said.

Commitments remain insufficient to limit the average increase in global temperature to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), a target that was agreed Copenhagen last year.

The UN Framework Convention estimates that commitments amount to a cut of between 12 and 19 percent from 1990 levels, short of the range of 25 to 40 percent it says is needed.

The U.S. pledge to cut emissions by 17 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels remains a sticking point in the talks, Solon said. The pledge amounts to a 3 percent reduction from 1990 levels, less than the 5 percent required under the Kyoto Protocol, which the U.S. didn’t ratify, he said.

U.S., China

The U.S. and China, the two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, have been deadlocked over issues including pollution- reduction goals and verification of emissions cuts.

A bill that would cap emissions stalled in the U.S. Senate this year after the House passed a measure in 2009. Todd Stern, U.S. special envoy for climate change, said in an interview on Oct. 1 there’s “no doubt” the U.S. will adopt legislation that will help reach its emissions reduction goal.

The U.S. and other developed nations should raise their targets for cutting emissions, Agence France-Presse reported yesterday, citing Su Wei, China’s chief negotiator on climate change.

Most countries accept China’s pledge to reduce carbon dioxide emissions intensity, measured as emissions per unit of gross domestic product, by between 40 and 45 percent by 2020, he said.

Bolivia and China are both in the so-called G77 group of developing nations, which act together at climate change talks.

Republished from Bloomberg

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