A UN conference on a new climate change agreement adjourned on Friday claiming modest progress, but with delegates concerned that the slow pace posed the risk of failing to complete an accord on time.
The end of the meeting coincided with a new report by a Dutch environmental monitor that China’s emissions of greenhouse gases sharply increased last year, and it now emits 14 percent more than the US.
The delegates from 172 countries began gathering specific proposals on how to slow global warming by curbing carbon emissions, how to help poor countries adapt to climate change and how to raise the hundreds of billions of dollars needed annually.
But participants said not enough ideas were put on the table, and environmental organizations accused the US, Canada and Australia of obstructing progress.
The talks aim to produce a successor accord to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which set targets for 37 industrial countries to cut emissions of greenhouse gases by an average 5 percent by 2012.
A new accord should be in place within 18 months to allow time for ratification and a smooth transition to a new regime in 2012.
“In view of the little negotiating time available up to 2009, proposals need to become much more focused,” said Yvo de Boer, the UN’s top climate change official.
Harald Dovland, the Norwegian chairman of a key working group on updating Kyoto’s terms, acknowledged frustration at the lack of conclusions.
“We need a completely new spirit of cooperation,” he said. “If we continue in this mode and speed of work, I fear we will not succeed in achieving the goals set in our work program.”
The chairman of a second key working group on multilateral cooperation said, however, that he was encouraged by numerous ideas on financing and technology transfers.
“Parties are making the all important transition from broader discussions to the negotiating phase,” Luis Figueiredo Machado said.
Bill Hare, of the Greenpeace environmental group, said wealthy countries had failed to offer concrete suggestions or creative solutions, and nearly all the innovative ideas came from developing countries.
“Unless the pace accelerates, unless political roadblocks are removed quickly and urgently, there is a major risk of failure in these negotiations,” he said.
Delegates will reconvene in August in Accra, Ghana, and again in Poznan, Poland, in December. At least four more major conferences were scheduled for next year, concluding in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December.
Scientists say the emissions of gases that trap heat and cause the earth’s temperature to rise must level off in the next 10 to 15 years, then decline sharply by mid-century.
They warn that an increase of more than 2 degrees Celsius could lead to catastrophic results, including a rise in sea levels threatening coastal areas and the extinction of up to 30 percent of species.
Among the proposals receiving the widest attention in Bonn was a plan by Mexico to create a new global fund into which all countries would contribute, possibly based on GDP or their rate of carbon emissions. Poorer countries could then draw on the fund to adapt to climate change.
China also generated buzz by suggesting a protocol to govern the transfer of technology.
It supported a notion to compensate companies for selling patented technologies cheaply to developing countries, in the same way pharmaceutical firms sell HIV/AIDS drugs at a reduced price to African and other AIDS-afflicted poor countries.
Li Yan, of Greenpeace-China, said the once-reluctant Chinese approach to climate change negotiations had turned around in the last two years.
She praised some of its domestic policies on renewable energy and energy efficiency and its new cooperative attitude toward an international agreement. At the same time, China is building a new coal-fired power plant every six days to feed its fast-growing economy.
China’s escalating emissions were highlighted in the report issued on Friday by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
LIFELONG LOSS: Jiro Hamasumi, who was not quite born when an atomic bomb hit Hiroshima, lost his father and other relatives, but said he thinks about his father daily As Japan marks 75 years since the devastating attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the last generation of nuclear bomb survivors is working to ensure their message lives on after them. The “hibakusha” — literally “person affected by the bomb” — have for decades been a powerful voice calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. There are an estimated 136,700 left, many of whom were infants or soon to be born at the time of the attacks. The average age of a survivor now is a little over 83, according to the Japanese Ministry of Health, lending an urgency as they share their testimonies