US holds UN climate negotiations hostage
BONN, GERMANY, June 12, 2009 –Throughout the United Nations climate talks due to end today in Bonn, the United States administration blocked progress to move negotiations forward, according to Friends of the Earth International.
Rather than show global leadership, the Obama Administration failed to live up to its responsibility as the world’s largest historical greenhouse gas polluter. This strategy damages the prospects for a just, equitable, and effective outcome at the key UN conference planned in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December this year.
“The election of President Obama created tremendous hope worldwide that the U.S. would finally play a leadership role in solving the climate crisis that – more than any other nation on Earth – it is responsible for causing. Unfortunately for the survival of people and the planet, the Obama Administration’s position at these UN negotiations sounds frighteningly similar to that of George Bush,” said Karen Orenstein of Friends of the Earth U.S.
Domestic greenhouse gas emission reductions by industrialised countries of at least 40% by 2020 on 1990 levels – with no offsetting – are needed for a reasonable chance of avoiding catastrophic global climate change.
The US administration, however, is still talking about zero per cent reductions by 2020 on 1990 levels. Japan tabled a dangerously low emissions reduction target during the talks of 8% below 1990 levels. The EU remained unimpressive with their inadequate 2020 target of 20 % (30% if other industrialised countries commit to similar efforts). Considering that the EU is set to offset over half of its commitments, already weak EU targets will be even further watered down.
Delegations from around the world repeatedly warned developed countries that their refusal to set their own adequate targets is preventing any progress in other aspects of the negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The Alliance of Small Island States called on developed countries to commit to higher greenhouse gas reduction targets so that global temperature rise stays below 1.5ºC. Bolivia demanded repayment of the developed world’s climate debt. El Salvador and Paraguay stood strong to protect Indigenous Peoples rights.
Alarmingly, industrialised countries failed in Bonn to agree to the substantial transfer of money and technology cooperation needed to enable developing countries to tackle climate change.
“Industrialised countries need to assume their historical responsibility and pay back their climate debt. Developing countries must stay strong in calling for climate justice. By ignoring calls to repay their climate debt and hindering progress in these talks, rich countries are jeopardising the lives and livelihoods of millions of people.” said Meena Raman, Honorary Secretary of Friends of the Earth Malaysia.
Industrialised nations owe developing countries a ‘climate debt’ for both excessive greenhouse gas pollution over the past 200 years and to compensate for the damage that pollution has and will cause.  Rich, industrialised countries account for some twenty percent of the world’s population but are responsible for around three-quarters of historical greenhouse gas emissions. But developed countries have so far refused to repay this debt and continued to block progress in the negotiations.
For more information, contact in Bonn:
Meena Raman, Honorary Secretary of Friends of the Earth Malaysia: Tel: + 60 12 43 00 042 (Malaysian mobile number)
Karen Orenstein, Friends of the Earth US: Tel: +1-202-640 8679 (US mobile number)
Sonja Meister, Friends of the Earth Europe (English, German): Tel: +49-176-64 60 85 15 (German mobile number)
Asad Rehman, Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland: Tel: +44 77201 47280 (UK mobile number)
NOTES TO EDITORS
 For more information on climate debt, read the Third World Network briefing paper on climate debt.