Ministers gather for final climate talks

2012-12-04 12:08

((Karim Jaafar, AFP))

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Doha – About 100 ministers and a handful of heads of state gathered in Doha for the final, high-level stretch of UN climate talks marked by bickering over cash and commitments needed to curb greenhouse gases.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is scheduled to address the gathering of more than 11 000 participants and is expected to urge countries to put aside differences for the sake of the planet's future.

Even as the alarm was again raised about the dangerous trajectory of Earth-warming gas emissions, observers say the nearly 200 nations at the talks remain far apart on issues vital for unlocking a global deal on climate change.

Poor countries insist that Western nations sign up to deeper, more urgent cuts in carbon emissions and commit to a new funding package from 2013 to help them cope with worsening drought, flood, storms and rising seas.

Resolution of both questions by the meeting's end on Friday should smooth the way to a new, universal treaty that must be signed by 2015 and enter into force in 2020 to roll back global warming.

The UN goal is to limit warming to two degrees Celsius at which scientists hope we can escape the worst climate change effects.

UN climate chief Christiana Figueres expressed "frustration" Monday at the pace of progress, as some delegates began to voice fears of deadlock ahead of the ministers' arrival for the final, political push.

Five heads of state and government were scheduled to address Tuesday's plenary meeting, from Gabon, Mauritania, Samoa, Ethiopia and Swaziland.

Climate talks

The Doha talks are meant to finalise a second period of the Kyoto Protocol, the world's only binding pact on curbing greenhouse gas emissions, but delegates disagree on its timeframe and country targets.

The first leg of the protocol bound about 40 rich nations and the EU to curbing emissions but excludes the two biggest polluters, the US, which refused to ratify it, and China which was left out because it is a developing country.

Another area of disagreement is money.

Developed nations are being asked to show how they intend to meet a promise to raise funding for poor nations' climate mitigation plans to $100bn per year by 2020, up from a total $30bn in 2010-2012.

The developing world says it needs a total of $60bn from now to 2015, but so far no commitments have been made.

A study warned Sunday that Earth could be on track for warming above five degrees Celsius by 2100, at least double the 2°C limit targeted by the UN.

And on Tuesday, an economists' report said even an impossible zero-percent pollution target for the developed world by 2030 won't stop calamitous climate change, and poor nations too must do their part.

- SAPA
Read more on:    qatar  |  climate change
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