World / Asia-Pacific

'Weak' pledges on climate change

By Lan Lan and Wu Wencong in Doha, Qatar (China Daily) Updated: 2012-12-08 08:14

Ministers to make final decisions in effort to reach compromises.

A host of unresolved issues continued to overshadow the UN climate talks on Friday as delegates from about 200 countries are trying to pave the way for a new deal that includes all countries after 2020.

As of press time, a long day of heated discussion had entered a stage for ministers to make final decisions and reach compromises to ensure a balanced package of outcomes from Doha.

'Weak' pledges on climate change

Developing countries and civil societies feel unhappy with the weak pledges from developed countries shown in three texts issued by the chair on Friday, ranging from the low ambition in cutting greenhouse gas emissions and their reluctance to deliver technology and finances to help developing countries cope with climate change.

The Doha talks are being held against a backdrop of more frequent extreme weather events and scientific concern that the goal of limiting climate change to a 2 C rise in global temperatures cannot be met.

Philippine climate envoy Naderev Sano passionately called on countries to open their eyes to the stark reality of global warming, and "hear the call for emergency and implementation" after a catastrophic typhoon swept through the southern Philippines and led to the deaths of more than 500 on Tuesday.

Hurricane Sandy, which slammed into Haiti, Cuba and New York in late October, is also widely seen as a clear sign of climate change.

At an informal plenary on Friday, Xie Zhenhua, China's top climate change official, said although the texts are not satisfactory, the parties still hope an acceptable outcome can result from the meeting.

"We cannot reach a conclusion on all issues, so we have to find a place to conclude them," said Brazil's senior negotiator Ambassador Andre Correa do Lago.

Karl-Heinz Florenz, a member of the European Parliament delegation to the Doha climate change talks, said he was disappointed with the sluggish process of the talks.

The thorniest issues at the Doha talks were the divergence among negotiators toward financial support to the developing world.

What developing countries are asking for is a roadmap and clear commitment, but that's not there, said Meena Raman of the Malaysia-based Third World Network, an international network of organizations and individuals concerned with environment and development.

Developed countries made a commitment to increase climate funding to $100 billion per year by 2020, after the three-year Fast Start Fund expires at the end of this year.

By the second week of the talks, five European countries and the European Commission had pledged around 7 billion euros ($9.1 billion) for the period after 2012.

The gap between the existing commitments and a $60 billion mid-term finance target for 2015 proposed by the developing countries remains large, said Li Yan, Greenpeace East Asia's climate and energy campaign manager.

Both the EU and the United States said they would not make concrete mid-term funding pledges, citing their financial difficulties or complex budget mechanism.

Raman of the Third World Network said the United States has been "a very major blocker" in the negotiations.

"For instance, on the intellectual property rights issue, even the mention of these words, not even to put them in the text, is a huge taboo for the US and they said they would not talk about it and they walked out of the conference," she said.

"Why do you see even the European Union go down so low, and why do you see Canada leave the Kyoto Protocol? ... Why is Japan, or Russia, not committing to a second commitment period? In my view, it's because of the US ... I'd rather the US not be in the negotiations," she said.

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