Greens Abandon UN Climate Talks
November 22, 2013
Al Jazeera America & Agence France-Presse & Al Jazeera America
Greenpeace, Oxfam and four other NGOs walked out of UN climate negotiations in Warsaw on Thursday, declaring that the talks were "on track to deliver virtually nothing." The annual round of talks are meant to pave the way to a climate deal by 2015 that will peg global warming to a maximum of 3.6 degrees over pre-industrial revolution levels. Developing countries walked out of an earlier meeting amid a disagreement on who should pay for climate change problems.
Green Groups Walk Out of UN Climate Talks in Warsaw
Al Jazeera America & Agence France-Presse
WARSAW (November 21, 2013) -- Six green groups walked out of UN climate negotiations in Warsaw on Thursday, declaring that the ailing talks were "on track to deliver virtually nothing."
The annual round of talks are meant to pave the way to a climate deal by 2015 that will peg global warming to a maximum of 3.6 degrees over pre-industrial revolution levels.
But deep faultlines have emerged between rich and poor nations.
The negotiations, which opened in the Polish capital on Nov. 11, entered their penultimate day Thursday with the two sides still squabbling over funding for poor nations to deal with climate change, and apportioning curbs in climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions.
Greenpeace spokesman Gregor Kessler told AFP news agency that the groups were "leaving this year's conference for good today."
He said the delegations, or at least that of Greenpeace, would not leave Warsaw altogether, and would "follow the discussions from the outside."
"We will not be part of the internal discussions," Kessler said.
The other signatories were the World Wildlife Fund, Oxfam, ActionAid, the International Trade Union Confederation and Friends of the Earth.
On Wednesday, the G77, a group of developing countries including China, walked out of a meeting about compensation for the impact of global warming. Representatives accused wealthier nations of failing to show willingness to discuss aid or compensation for losses and damage widely blamed on global warming, such as rising sea levels and creeping desertification.
Green groups attend the talks as observers and advisors, and do not take part in decision-making, which is reserved for UN member states.
"Organizations and movements representing people from every corner of the Earth have decided that the best use of our time is to voluntarily withdraw from the Warsaw climate talks," the signatories said in a statement. "The Warsaw climate conference, which should have been an important step in the just transition to a sustainable future, is on track to deliver virtually nothing."
Oxfam's executive director, Winnie Byanyima, said governments gathered in Warsaw were failing in their primary responsibility of securing the security of their people.
"They must… come back in 2014 ready for meaningful discussions on how they will deliver their share of the emissions reductions, which scientists say are needed, and their share of the money needed to help the poorest and most vulnerable countries adapt" to climate change, said Byanyima.
UN Climate Change Talks in Warsaw
Hampered by Development Gap
Al Jazeera America
(November 20, 2013) -- Developed and developing nations were deadlocked Wednesday over how to raise aid to help developing countries cope with global warming, in another setback at United Nations climate talks in Warsaw seeking progress toward a new global climate accord.
With two days left in talks trying to reach a new agreement meant to be concluded in 2015 and enter into force from 2020, negotiators for developing nations including China walked out early Wednesday from a meeting about compensation for the impact of global warming.
"We do not see a clear commitment of developed parties to reach an agreement," said Rene Orellana, head of Bolivia's delegation.
Bolivia and other developing countries accused wealthier nations of failing to show willingness to discuss aid or compensation for losses and damage widely blamed on global warming, such as rising sea levels and creeping desertification.
For many less-developed countries, the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines has raised the urgency of compensation.
Global economic losses caused by extreme weather have risen to nearly $200 billion a year over the past decade and look set to increase further as climate change worsens, the World Bank said this week.
"The compensation that those countries require is something that is absolutely fundamental and crucial," said India's environment minister, Jayanthi Natarajan.
The question of who is to blame for global warming is central for developing countries, who say they should receive financial support from richer nations to help make their economies greener, adapt to climate shifts and cover the costs of unavoidable damage caused by warming temperatures.
Also, they say the fact that richer nations have historically released the biggest amounts of heat-trapping CO2 -- by burning fossil fuels for more than 200 years -- means they need to take the lead in reducing current emissions.
In Warsaw, developing nations are coming up with new ways to make their point. Brazil has proposed creating a formula to calculate historical blame.
"They must know how much they are actually responsible ... for the essential problem of climate change," Brazilian negotiator Raphael Azeredo said.
Developed nations blocked that proposal, however, saying the world should look at current and future emissions when dividing up the responsibility for global warming.
China, considered a developing nation at these talks, overtook the United States to become the world's biggest carbon polluter in the last decade, and developing countries as a whole now have higher emissions than the developed world.
To focus only on past emissions "seems to us as very partial and not very accurate," Todd Stern, the US climate envoy, said.
The US wants to get rid of the UN's current division between developed and developing nations. Stern noted that a 2007 study showed that by 2020 the all-time emissions of developing countries will exceed those of the developed world, due to emissions growth in large emerging economies like China and India.
Those countries are trying to develop in a cleaner way, but say it is unfair to expect them to abstain from the more polluting fuels that built Western economies into powerhouses with high living standards.
Finding a way to share the burden of emissions cuts in an equitable manner is one of the top challenges for the climate negotiators, whose overall goal is to keep average global temperature from rising more than 3.6 degrees F from what they were in preindustrial times.
Scientists say the global average temperature has already risen by 1.4 F, resulting in melting glaciers, rising sea levels and other climate impacts.
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