Bonn climate talks see little progress

15:34, June 18, 2011      

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European Union representative on climate change talks Juergen Lefevere (C), and EU rotating presidency Hungary's representative on climate change attend a closing press conference of the latest UN climate talks held in Bonn, Germany, Jun. 17, 2011. (Xinhua/Han Mo)

The latest United Nations (UN) climate talks ended here on Friday with no surprise -- some " technical issues" saw some progress, as delegates usually said, while major disagreements remained.

The two-week UN climate negotiations have made "clear advances" on such issues as extending carbon trading mechanisms, climate fund management and slowing deforestation, Christiana Figueres, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) executive secretary, said at a closing press conference.

Figueres said delegates from 183 countries stepped forward with a technology mechanism to boost global green technology sharing. The mechanism will include a Climate Technology Center and Network to establish a worldwide clean technology stakeholder community.

As for the implementation of a comprehensive package of the Cancun summit last year, this Bonn session has "paved the way" for progress at the next UN ministerial-level climate conference, which is to be held in Durban, South Africa from Nov. 28 to Dec. 9, Figueres said.

"Strong convergence has emerged on how the Adaptation Committee will be governed, what its composition will be and what its specific role will be," she said. "This progress means that the Committee could be fully operationalized at Durban."

The UN climate chief stressed that governments, business circles and civil society cannot solve issues related to climate change "in one meeting," and climate talks are "the most important " negotiations the world has ever seen.

"The Bonn meeting is practical, focusing on concrete issues. In general, the negotiating process is moving forward step by step and on the right track," Su Wei, China's chief negotiator, told Xinhua on Friday.

"Despite setbacks and reversals, parties are taking climate change seriously and are willing to promote the negotiations under the Bali Roadmap," he said. "In the past two weeks, contact groups are busy making informal consultations on various topics."

"Admittedly, in some key areas, there is a gap among parties," Su said.

During the meeting, many delegates and observers have complained that the pace of negotiation was unbearably slow, especially against the backdrop of a new warning from the International Energy Agency, which said the global energy-related carbon emissions rose to a record high in 2010 despite decade-long efforts on curbs.

Experts said one of the main hurdles in current talks was still the old topic -- the fate of the Kyoto Protocol, the sole legally- binding pact on industrial countries' emission cuts set to expire at the end of 2012.

The protocol, which binds 37 rich countries, has been crippled since Cancun, as Japan, Canada and Russia have clearly stated they would not extend the pact's second commitment period after 2012.

The United States, which never ratified the treaty, said it would not accept any legal deal unless other major economies have similar emission constraints.

The European Union (EU), the last major bloc that is open to the renewing of the Kyoto Protocol, said its supportive attitude should not be taken for granted. The EU said it would not unilaterally step up efforts on combating climate change if other nations are not willing to do the same.

Meanwhile, developing countries insisted that the updating of the Kyoto Protocol remains "the very core issue" of current talks, asking rich nations to shoulder their historical responsibilities and preserve the pact as a major legally-binding instrument to tackle climate change.

The Group of 77 and China, representing over 130 developing nations, have said that the renewal of the Protocol should be the priority for Durban.

On Friday, Figueres said that "resolving the future of the Kyoto Protocol is an essential task this year and will require high-level political guidance."

"By Durban, governments need to come forward with options that will be acceptable to all parties," she said, adding that high- level contacts are necessary to break the ice.

She told reporters that environment ministers are due to meet in Berlin from July 3 to 4, known as a continuation of last year's ministerial-level informal talks held in the town of Petersburg near Bonn. Moreover, world leaders are due to discuss climate change on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September.

Before the Durban summit, delegates have agreed to hold an additional round of climate talks in late September or early October, Figueres revealed.

Source: Xinhua

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