Tue, Nov 27, 2012 - Page 1 News List

UN climate talks resume amid bleak expectations


UN talks on a new climate pact resumed yesterday in oil and gas-rich Qatar, where negotiators from nearly 200 countries were to discuss fighting global warming.

The two-decade-old talks have not fulfilled their main purpose: reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that scientists say are warming the planet.

Attempts to create a new climate treaty failed in Copenhagen three years ago, but countries agreed last year to try again, giving themselves until 2015 to adopt a new treaty.

Several issues need to be resolved by then, including how to spread the burden of emissions cuts between rich and poor countries. That is unlikely to be decided in the Qatari capital, where negotiators are to focus on extending the Kyoto Protocol — an emissions deal for industrialized countries — and trying to raise money to help developing countries adapt to a shifting climate.

The UN process is often criticized, even ridiculed, both by climate activists who say the talks are too slow and by those who challenge the scientific near-consensus that the global temperature rise is at least partly man-made, primarily by the burning of fossil fuels.

Environmentalists found the choice of Qatar as host of the two-week conference ironic. The tiny Persian Gulf emirate owes its wealth to large resources of gas and oil, and is the world’s top greenhouse gases emitter per capita.

Yet it has not announced any climate action in the UN process and former Qatari oil minister Abdullah Bin Hamad al-Attiyah did not do so when he opened the conference yesterday.

“We should not concentrate on the per capita [emissions], we should concentrate on the amount from each country,” al-Attiyah said.

The concentration of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide has jumped 20 percent since 2000, a UN report released last week said. The report added that there is a growing gap between what governments are doing to curb emissions and what needs to be done to protect the world.

The aim of the talks is to keep the warming to below 2oC compared with pre-industrial times.

However, efforts taken so far to rein in emissions, reduce deforestation and promote clean technology are not working. A recent projection by the World Bank showed temperatures are expected to increase by up to 4oC by 2100.

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