April 12, 2010

Tensions Flare During UN Climate Change Meeting

A meeting of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) over the weekend once again highlighted the differences of opinions between nations that have been ongoing since the December 2009 Copenhagen conference.

The meeting, which was held in Bonn, Germany and lasted from Friday through early Monday morning, saw countries squabbling over minor policy issues, such as negotiation methods for future conferences and how to recognize and incorporate the last-minute deal that came out of last year's UNFCCC meeting in Norway.

Paul Watkinson, the UNFCCC representative from France, told the AFP, "The negotiations were very tense. There is a lot of mistrust"¦ Some delegates don't seem to have taken onboard what happened in Copenhagen and the need to gain quick, concrete results."

During the Copenhagen summit, a last-minute deal struck by a small group of world leaders, including United States President Barack Obama, set a general goal of limiting global warming to an additional 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit and set aside $30 billion in aid from 2010 through 2012.

However, nations who were not part of the negotiations have criticized the accord, and the two sides remained in opposition during the weekend summit at Bonn as some argued against using the Copenhagen Accord during current or future climate negotiations.

According to AFP reporter Jerome Cartillier, "Left-led nations in the Caribbean and Latin America attacked the Accord as undemocratic and a betrayal of UN principles. They called for negotiations to resume on the basis of a draft that was put on hold halfway through the Copenhagen meeting."

Ultimately, all parties agreed to let Chairwoman Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe make the final decision, but the weekend's struggles marked another setback for the UNFCCC and its 194 member nations as they search for ways to limit carbon emissions, curb global warming, and provide financial assistance for developing countries.

"We reached an agreement in Bali (in 2007) that we would conclude negotiations two years later in Copenhagen, and we didn't," UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer told Cartillier on April 11. "The finishing line has now been moved to Cancun, and I wouldn't be surprised if the final finishing line in terms of a legally binding treaty ends up being moved to South Africa (in 2011)."

"Copenhagen was the last get-out-of-jail-free card and we cannot afford another failure in Cancun," he added. "If we see another failure in Cancun, that will cause a serious loss of confidence in the ability of this process to deliver."


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