83 developing states call for clear climate finance & emission pledges

By Ed King

Concrete plans to deliver finance, technology and capacity building to combat climate change are still woefully inadequate, 83 developing nations have warned in a statement at the United Nations climate negotiations.

The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) groups, which represent over 920 million people, say UN talks in Bonn over the next two weeks must focus on short-term efforts to address rising levels of carbon emissions.

They argue that if developed countries do not “take the lead in examining untapped domestic mitigation potential” they will face a far larger bill from climate-vulnerable nations if rising sea levels start to submerge countries.

“We hope to see this process leading toward more closely identifying concrete plans to mobilise the finance, technology, and capacity building needed to unlock mitigation reductions in line with scientific recommendations,” the statement reads.

“Unfortunately, more frequent, extreme and intense climate impacts, such as droughts, floods, cyclones, storm surges, and sea level rise, have already taken a toll on our people, so adaptation and Loss and Damage must be integral to the discussions at this session so an international Loss and Damage mechanism can be established in Warsaw.”

The cost of compensating countries for climate related disasters could outweigh the price of cutting carbon emissions now

In the first instance AOSIS and the LDCs want all signatories to the Kyoto Protocol extension agreed in 2012 to ratify their obligations, and collectively aim for “more ambitious targets” in 2014.

European Union members expect to ratify the extension later this year, ahead of the COP19 Warsaw climate summit in November.

Both groups maintain countries at the UN climate talks should be aiming to keep global warming below 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. This level of ambition is likely to be contested over the coming days.

A German study published ahead of the latest round of discussions in Bonn argued a goal to prevent 2C of warming is “no longer feasible”. USA lead climate negotiator Todd Stern voiced doubts over the target’s usefulness last year, and it is likely there are other larger nations who would be happy to see it quietly dropped.

But it would likely meet fierce resistance from the UN Climate Secretariat, poorer nations, the EU and civil society groups around the world.

“It’s just one think tank and it’s not a widely accepted view. They are right in saying it’s difficult to avoid 2C, targets and actions will need to be changed drastically. But it needs all different kinds of action,” Ulriikka Aarnio, Senior Policy Officer at the Climate Action Network told RTCC from Bonn.

“2C is too dangerous, it’s not acceptable and means passing the tipping points. But we can’t fool ourselves that the little cosmetics that we are doing would help ourselves. It’s really getting late and communication needs to change.”

Russian roulette

Efforts to inject urgency into the UN negotiations ground to a halt in the first major session of the two-week gathering, the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI).

A move from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus to discuss ‘Procedural and legal issues relating to decision-making by the Conference of the Parties’ proved unpopular with other delegates.

The East European trio’s gripe relates to the way decisions are reached at the UN climate talks – in particular those relating to the Kyoto Protocol in Doha last year – which Russia delegate Oleg Shamanov condemned as approaching ‘legal nihilism’.

While regarded as a valid concern by many observers, many were left frustrated that a point of procedure had effectively stopped negotiations on how to generate effective climate action on day one of the conference.

“We showed flexibility believing that our views would be taken into consideration but decisions were taken without that consideration,” said the Belarus representative.

Fiji’s delegation argued that it was “not in interest of parties to engage in an agenda fight on the first day”, but with no consensus on how to resolve the issue the chairman had to adjourn the session just over an hour after they had started.

“It’s not unusual for Russia to do something like this. They have often delayed the progress, and usually it is at the end not at the beginning,” said Aarnio.

“This comes from when the decision in Doha was hammered without their agreeing to it. It was a surprise for everyone when the decision [in Doha} was made, and someone might consider they have a reason to be upset, but this is not a nice way to stall the whole process.”

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