UN climate talks: developed nations strangle hope of progress
BONN (GERMANY), 6 August 2010 — Speaking at the close of the latest round of UN climate talks in Bonn today, Asad Rehman, International Climate Campaigner at Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland, said: “As we approach the next major UN climate summit in Cancun, developed nations are strangling any hope of major progress by continuing to stall the negotiations.
“This week rich countries have dragged their feet on committing to the next phase of the Kyoto Protocol, which enshrines their responsibility to cut their emissions first and fastest, and tried to force developing countries to accept a weak and unfair agreement.
“This potentially leaves the world with no legally-binding way of cutting carbon emissions – and at grave risk of catastrophic climate change which would endanger billions of lives.”
Joseph Zacune, Friends of the Earth International Climate Justice and Energy Program Co-ordinator added: “Rich industrialised countries must immediately commit to radical binding emission reductions without carbon offsetting. Failure to do so would make them complicit in the slow death of the human species as a result of catastrophic climate change.”
During the week of UNFCCC talks in Bonn, there was increasingly polarised positioning on the Kyoto Protocol, the legal instrument which commits rich countries to cutting their emissions first and fastest. 
Rich countries, in particular the EU, have backed away from whole-heartedly committing to the Protocol, which enshrines the responsibility of rich countries to act first as the primary agents of climate change, because of a perceived lack of progress in the second strand of the negotiations, on Long-term Cooperative Action.
The United States has had an increasingly detrimental influence on the negotiations since Congress rejected emissions reduction legislation earlier this year – and their negotiators are pushing hard for a potential new climate treaty to include more of the clauses from the Copenhagen Accord, which proposes a system of voluntary emission reduction pledges.
Both the EU and the USA are demanding developing countries commit to cutting their emissions – even though, under UN treaties, they are not required to do so, and hundreds of millions of their people still lack basic amenities like electricity. Such a measure would, in fact, be in contravention of the UNFCCC.
Fresh analysis undertaken by Third World network also revealed that loopholes in the Kyoto Protocol are even more significant that first feared. The four main loopholes in the Protocol – Forestry accounting rules (LULUCF); international aviation and shipping emissions; surplus emissions allowances from the former USSR and other Eastern European countries; and ‘escape hatches’ like carbon offsetting and trading – are sufficient to outweigh all the current emissions reduction pledges on the table at the talks. Rich countries could, in fact, actually increase their emissions.
The issue of Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV) for developing countries has also become more prominent, with rich countries pushing for strict rules on such methods whilst simultaneously refusing to commit to the strong emissions reductions required to tackle climate change effectively.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Asad Rehman, International Climate Campaigner at Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland
Joseph Zacune, Friends of the Earth International Climate Justice and Energy Program Co-ordinator
NOTES TO EDITORS
See presentations made to the UNFCCC conference by Stockholm Environment Institute and Third World Network.