The climate change conference in Bonn was supposed to see the creation of a work-plan that would result in a new global climate treaty by 2020. Instead, the talks ended with disappointment, no progress being made, and there are concerns that politics are getting in the way. More disturbingly, it is reported that decisions made during the Durban talks last year are now being undermined.
It appears to be the same old story: rapidly growing economies such as India and China don’t want to implement a treaty that will restrict their growth, while more developed countries are unwilling to make any changes by themselves. As a result, the countries who attended Bonn have only managed to draw up a partial agenda instead of a full work-plan for the next three years.
Speaking to the press, one developed country spokesman summed up the feelings of the environmental movement by saying: ”It’s incredibly frustrating to have achieved so little. We’re stepping backwards, not forwards.”
It is not just the developed countries that are under threat from rising water levels that are concerned. In a statement, Connie Hedegaard, the EU climate chief, said: “The world cannot afford that a few want to backtrack from what was agreed in Durban only five months ago. Durban was – and is – a delicately balanced package where all elements must be delivered at the same pace. It is not a pick and choose menu. It is very worrisome that attempts to backtrack have been so obvious and time-consuming in the Bonn talks over the last two weeks.”
Among the many issues that caused endless haggling and debate was the creation of a ‘Green Climate Fund‘ that would channel cash from the developed world to poorer countries to help them cut greenhouse gas emissions and cope with the effects of climate change.
However, there was light at the end of the tunnel with many agreeing that the Kyoto protocol – the world’s only legally binding treaty on emissions cuts – be extended beyond 2012. It is hoped that this will be finalized at a conference in Doha, Qatar, this November, but thus far it is only the EU developed countries that are sticking to it. Japan and Canada have dropped out and the US hasn’t ratified the treaty. Such a treaty would follow on from the Kyoto protocol and from the Copenhagen pledges made at the 2009 summit, in which both developed and developing countries agreed for the first time jointly to curb emissions by 2020.
Ultimately, it all comes down to political and economic will, and currently, that is lacking the world over. Tove Maria Ryding, coordinator for climate policy at Greenpeace International, said: “Here in Bonn we’ve clearly seen that the climate crisis is not caused by lack of options and solutions, but lack of political action. It’s absurd to watch governments sit and point fingers and fight like little kids while the scientists explain about the terrifying impacts of climate change and the fact that we have all the technology we need to solve the problem while creating new green jobs.”
Celine Charveriat, advocacy and campaigns director at Oxfam echoed his sentiments adding: “At a time when ambitious emission reductions are more urgent than ever, developed countries in Bonn made no progress to close the gap between current climate targets and what is required to avoid the worst of climate change. Developed countries must improve on their current low level of ambition and accept higher reduction targets no later than at the Qatar summit.”
Fingers crossed for Qatar then.