UN climate talks in deadlock

Posted at 12/07/12 10:18 PM

DOHA, Qatar - European Union promises of rising aid to help developing countries tackle climate change on Thursday failed to unblock a deal at U.N. talks in Doha that green groups said were on the brink of disaster.

The two-week meeting, due to end on Friday (December 7), is deadlocked on modest goals such as aid and an extension of an existing U.N.-led plan to combat climate change into 2013.

It has done nothing to curb rising world emissions of greenhouse gas emissions.

Several EU nations announced extra cash to help the poor cut their greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to more floods, heatwaves, droughts and rising sea levels.

Developing nations welcomed the promises but demanded a collective commitment, from nations including the United States, Australia and Japan, of a doubling in aid to $20 billion a year from 2013-15 from $10 billion in 2010-12.

Finance is a huge stumbling block at the meeting, which is also trying to work out a symbolic extension of the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol that binds about 35 rich nations to cut emissions by at least 5.2 percent below 1990 levels until the end of 2012.

A group of leading environmental groups -- including Greenpeace, the WWF and Oxfam -- said they were launching "an emergency call to governments to save Doha from disaster."

"Civil society will not be complicit in an outcome in Doha that will risk the lives of millions, the bare minimum people on the planet need from the Doha is an agreement on the package that answers the three questions in terms of on the acid test. The six global organisations are also committed to naming and shaming the developed countries who are blocking even this small package which gives us only a small glimmer of hope that governments are serious about tackling climate change," Assad Raman, from Friends of the Earth, said.

The talks unfolded as typhoon Botha killed 332 people in the Philippines this week.

The delegate from the Philippines said the typhoon provided a "sobering" backdrop to the talks and called for greater commitments.

"We are deeply concerned with the status of the negotiations as we find ourselves in right now. The first commitment period of the Kyoto protocol is ending in 25 days, but we really don't have 25 days, we have a few precious hours left. A few precious hours left to ensure that we are on the right trajectory to addressing the climate crisis," head of the Philippines delegation, Yeb Sano, told a news conference.

"We are deeply concerned also considering the very important backdrop for my delegation as we confront the impacts of adverse climate change and come to terms with the tragedy back home. As we speak the death toll is rising, there is wide-spread devastation, communication lines are down, power lines are down and hundreds are missing, hundreds are buried behind mud and debris. This is a sobering situation for the delegation as we try to make a difference in these negotiations, as we try to make our presence felt, as we try to ensure that the voices of developing countries are represented in this process," he added.

Negotiators drafted texts to extend Kyoto, but left a difficult choice of options to be decided by ministers.

The European Union, Australia, Ukraine, Norway, Switzerland are the main backers of Kyoto who are willing to extend legally binding cuts in emissions beyond 2012 until 2020.

But they account for less than 15 percent of world emissions.

Russia, Japan and Canada have pulled out, saying it makes no sense to continue when big emerging nations led by China and India have no binding goals.

Kyoto backers see it as a blueprint to help unlock progress on a deal last year to work out by 2015 a new, global agreement to fight climate change that would enter into force in 2015.