UN climate talks face “major breakdown” warns Todd Stern

UPDATED: 1900 Lead US negotiator says time running out for deal in Lima, major divide remains 


By Ed King and Sophie Yeo in Lima

Talks to curb levels of global greenhouse gas emissions at a UN summit in Lima have now run over by 25 hours, with little sign of countries reaching an agreement.

proposal outlining basic guidelines of a hoped-for 2015 climate change deal has left the 195 nations split on familiar lines.

“It is clear there is no consensus,” said Artur Runge Metzger, a European Union official and co-chair of these talks.

Released in the early hours of Saturday morning by UN officials, the proposal won the guarded support of the EU, US, Russia, Mexico, the Marshall Islands and Switzerland.

But the Africa Group of nations, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and India say it needs more work, arguing it does not reflect the needs of developing countries.

China has called for the president of the conference, Peru environment minister Manuel Pulgar Vidal to take charge of the process and work out a solution.

Throughout Saturday afternoon Pulgar Vidal has been meeting key negotiating blocs and trying to work out a compromise. Envoys are expected to meet again at a televised session after 2100.

LIVE COVERAGE: Day 12 of UN climate talks in Lima

The goal of these talks is to deliver the framework for a global climate agreement in Paris next December, and make clear how each country will contribute in terms of emissions cuts or financial support.

Scientists say that unless fossil fuel emissions are brought under control in the next 30 years, the world could face irreversible levels of warming, leading to more floods, heatwaves and rising sea levels.

Earlier on Saturday US lead negotiator Todd Stern warned delegates the future of the UN’s climate body was at stake if no outcome emerged from Lima.

“Failing to produce a deal would be a major breakdown and a serious blow to confidence of others,” Stern said.

“We will live to regret it if we let the perfect be the enemy of the good in Lima.”

Russia’s Oleg Shamanov said the UN was facing a “procedural crisis”, but said he was prepared to accept the current decision.

US and Chinese officials are believed to have strongly influenced proposal placed on the table this morning, which is shorter than previous texts.

It details the types of national climate plans countries will have to submit, offers a space for a review process and calls on all countries to offer financial support to invest in green technologies in poorer nations.

Artur Runge Metzger told delegates: “You collectively constructed the draft decision that is in front of you today.”

But many disagreed, with developing countries calling for firmer language on finance for adaptation.

Tuvalu said the text needed “a little surgery” and demanded the inclusion of compensation for loss and damages incurred by climate impacts.

Malaysia, representing the Like Minded Developing group, which includes Saudia Arabia, India and Venezuela, said the text “undermined” the principles of the UN climate convention, which hold that countries have common but differentiated responsibilities to tackle global warming, depending on how developed they are.

“What else to you want us to do? Go on bended knees? Accede to your text?” said the Malaysian delegate.

He added his voice to calls for COP president Manuel Pulgar Vidal to take control of the talks and craft a deal.

Former France minister of state Pascal Canfin, who until March 2014 was leading planning for the Paris summit, said he felt there was still room for compromise.

“The fact that China has used the word ‘deadlock’ and the US is saying ‘Paris is at stake’ is meaningful because it has raised the stakes of what we are deciding here,” he said.

Veteran climate talks observer Alden Meyer, speaking as talks continued, said it was vital someone at the UN or presidency took control and engineered an outcome.

“It’s not going to happen in here,” he said. “they are not going to reach consensus in remaining plenary time and ministers will have to go home soon.”

Last year’s talks in Warsaw ran over by 22 hours. In 2011 negotiations concluded 48 hours after the official deadline.

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