UN climate talks under attack over lack of progress

EnvironmentAl campaigners have condemned international governments for a lack of progress after two weeks of United Nations talks failed to outline a global plan for tackling climate change.

Demonstrators from environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth demand global action. Picture: Contributed
Demonstrators from environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth demand global action. Picture: Contributed

They say time is running out for countries to agree a deal to cut greenhouse gas emissions and limit world temperature rise to 2C, warning that “people will pay for it with their lives”.

The latest meeting, in Bonn, Germany, is considered a key milestone ahead of a UN summit later this year that will determine how climate change is tackled for decades to come.

But negotiators have been accused of “fiddling around with unimportant details” instead of agreeing key measures for a draft of the treaty, due to be signed by world leaders in France in six months’ time.

“These talks are not progressing with the level of urgency the climate crisis demands,” said Dr Richard Dixon, director for Friends of the Earth Scotland. “The Paris negotiations in December must produce a deal in line with what climate science recommends and justice requires. We are currently far from any kind of decent draft agreement.

“If rich governments continue to drag their feet instead of taking immediate action, people will pay for it with their lives.

“Climate change is with us now, and every delay causes more heatwaves, droughts and floods. Hundreds of thousands of people are already dying every year because of climate change.”

Representatives from more than 130 countries were unable to agree on the legal form of the treaty or a fair distribution of commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

They also failed to set out a timescale for action and how finance will be generated to cope with damage caused by shifting environmental conditions.

Around ten days of negotiating time remains after the close of the Bonn meeting.

‘There has been too much time spent fiddling around with the unimportant details of the text,” said Mohamed Adow, senior climate change adviser for the charity Christian Aid.

“Negotiators have acted like schoolchildren colouring in their homework timetable and not getting round to any actual homework.”

Dr Dixon also called for Scotland to step up efforts to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases after the news this week that the country had missed its own “world-leading” climate targets for the fourth year in a row.

Scotland is considered to be setting a good example internationally but they can’t sustain that reputation if we keep missing targets,” he added.

“The energy revolution has begun, and global leaders must support it and commit to keeping fossil fuels in the ground.”

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government, which sent a representative to the talks in Bonn, said Scotland “stands firm in its commitment to tackling climate change and the international community needs to match our high ambition and agree a treaty at Paris”.