BONN, GERMANY, 11 June 2010 – On the final day of UN climate talks in Bonn, Friends of the Earth International warned that US intransigence is threatening vital progress in the talks leading up to the climate conference in Cancun, Mexico, this November.

The position of the US in the UN climate negotiations is becoming so detrimental that parties should consider reaching agreement on industrial countries emission cuts without US agreement, according to Friends of the Earth International.

US influence has been felt in action which threatens the integrity of the architecture to tackle climate change through the UNFCCC process – in particular proposals to collapse the current two tracks of the negotiations into one.

Friends of the Earth International is warning that Developed [‘Annex I’] countries including Japan and Russia are using the US position as an escape hatch from strong, binding commitments under the Kyoto Protocol.

The US is wavering on taking ‘comparable action’ in one of the two tracks of the talks, in the strand under Long Term Cooperative Action. While they propose a system of voluntary pledges with no compliance regulation other rich countries are under the Kyoto-Protocol obliged to agree new legally binding emissions cuts from 2012 onwards.

Meena Raman, of Friends of the Earth Malaysia, said:

“The US has blocked progress at every turn during the last two weeks and negotiators and civil society are beginning to ask whether the US is slowing progress to such a degree that it is worth waiting for them to come on board at all. They are pulling far too many strings behind the scenes, which is proving detrimental to the whole process”.

The two weeks of Bonn negotiations has also seen wrangling over rules for forestry in rich countries – called LULUCF, or Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry – which, if agreed, could see rich countries reap a windfall of over 400 million tonnes of emissions credits which would enable them to avoid taking strong action to cut emissions domestically, through investing in a massive rollout of renewable energy, for example.

Antje von Brook, Head of International Climate at Friends of the Earth Germany, said:

“Ironically, all these loopholes in emissions targets which negotiators have been grappling with for the last two weeks – from forestry, hot air and carbon offsetting – were only inserted at the insistence of the US in 1997 to try to get them on board with the Kyoto Protocol.

“Yet, now the US is outside the Protocol and distancing themselves even further from agreeing strong, legally binding targets to cut emissions and other countries are accommodating this to a quite astonishing degree.

“When EU leaders meet next week, they have a strong responsibility to provide an alternative to the US approach – and key to this should be a pledge to cut emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2020.”

Kate Horner, of Friends of the Earth US, said:

“President Obama must earn his stripes on climate change – the US is more engaged in the process now, yes, compared to the Bush years, but appears to be engaging only with the intent of dismantling the architecture it has taken years to build to tackle the problem.

“The price is nothing less than condemning millions of the world’s poorest people to a future coping with the increasingly devastating impacts of climate change.”

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT

Meena Raman, Honorary Secretary of Friends of the Earth Malaysia, + 41 22 908 35 50 (Swiss mobile)

Antje von Broock, Head of International Climate, Friends of the Earth Germany, +49 173 60 71 601 (German mobile number)

Kate Horner, Friends of the Earth US Policy Analyst, +1 360 319 9444 (US mobile number)

Asad Rehman, Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland, +44 79 56 21 03 32 (UK mobile number)