Developing countries demand additions to slimmed-down climate text

In a heated start to talks in Bonn, G77 + China group accuses co-chairs of producing an unbalanced working document

Negotiating chamber, Bonn (Pic: UNFCCC/Flickr)

Negotiating chamber, Bonn (Pic: UNFCCC/Flickr)

By Megan Darby

Negotiators will make “surgical insertions” to the text of a global climate deal on Monday, after developing countries rejected a slimmed-down draft.

The G77 + China group, which represents 134 poor and emerging economies, said the 20-page working document produced by UN officials was unbalanced.

Several of their priority concerns had been taken off the table, they said, demanding to re-introduce elements before going any further.

They promised to “exercise restraint” in adding proposals, according to a note by co-chairs Dan Reifsnyder and Ahmed Djoghlaf.

It was a last-minute change to the work plan as negotiators entered their last week of talks before this December’s Paris summit, at which a deal is to be finalised.

The latest text removed or downplayed references to finance, adapting to and dealing with losses from the impacts of climate change, critics said.

Instead, it majored on developed world concerns about greenhouse gas emissions.

Harjeet Singh, climate expert at Action Aid, described it as “lopsided” and “more speaking to the interests of the US and other developed countries”.

He called for stronger wording on loss and damage, in particular. “Solidarity” towards victims of climate impacts was not enough and developed countries should accept an “obligation” to help, Singh argued.

Doreen Stabinsky, professor of global environmental politics at College of the Atlantic, blogged: “The text looks like it could have been written by the US. I wonder why.”

That appeared to be a dig at Reifsnyder, one of the two lead officials, who comes from the US Department of State.

Report: UN releases 20-page negotiating text for climate deal

At a Climate Action Network briefing from Bonn, experts were less cynical.

“I don’t think it is a US conspiracy,” said E3G’s Liz Gallagher, pointing out the EU also had some issues with the latest draft.

“The co-chairs have transformed the text. They have put it on a radical diet and given it a makeover, but it needs work… The whittling down of the text was never going to be an easy process. The stakes are high.”

The document is unlikely to balloon to its previous size of 80+ pages, added Saleemul Huq of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development.

He expected blocs to be focused with their entries, perhaps reinserting 5-10 pages. “I am pretty sure there will be only key elements coming forward.”

Negotiators were urged not to let the stark disagreements tear talks apart, in a repeat of the failed 2009 Copenhagen summit.

Manuel Pulgar Vidal, Peruvian environment minister and host of last year’s Lima conference, addressed the plenary by video link.

“Let me be clear,” he said. “We have 2 options… the first is throw to the waste basket what we have in front of us… but all of us know if we do that we will suffer what we suffered in 2009.

“The second is to work constructively to get a firm, ambitious and pragmatic outcome.”

France chief climate diplomat Laurence Tubiana, responded: “I think we can reassure him [Pulgar Vidal] the second option is what we will do today.”

Read more on: UN climate talks