Developing world says rich nations shirking on climate

A light projection that reads "No future with fossil energies" in French on the facade of a coal-fired power plant in Germany. The Paris Agreement calls on the world to cap global warming at "well below" 2 deg C.
A light projection that reads "No future with fossil energies" in French on the facade of a coal-fired power plant in Germany. The Paris Agreement calls on the world to cap global warming at "well below" 2 deg C.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Failure to deliver on short-term pledges could hurt roll-out of Paris Agreement, bloc warns

PARIS • The failure of wealthy nations to deliver on short-term climate commitments could hinder the roll-out of a landmark treaty, a bloc of 134 developing countries, including India and China, has warned at United Nations negotiations in Bonn.

The diplomatic spat has underscored the difficulty of reaching a consensus at the 196-nation talks.

"If we do not respect decisions that we have made, then how can we build trust among the parties?" Mr Chen Zhihua, China's senior negotiator, said on Thursday, referring to longstanding pledges by rich nations to enhance financial support and "revisit" targets for curbing greenhouse gas emissions before 2020.

"And how can we lay a good foundation for the implementation of the Paris Agreement?" he added at a press conference, flanked by diplomats from India, Iran, Nicaragua and Ecuador, during the Nov 6 to Nov 17 UN climate talks in Germany.

The treaty, inked outside the French capital in 2015, calls on the world to cap global warming at "well below" 2 deg C, and even 1.5 deg C if possible.

With 1 deg C of warming so far, the planet has already seen an increase in drought, deadly heatwaves and superstorms.

The pact rests on voluntary carbon-cutting pledges from virtually every country in the world.

"The science is clear: If we don't get our act together before 2020, you can forget about the 2 deg C and 1.5 deg C targets," said Mr Paul Oquist, Nicaragua's chief negotiator at the talks.

"There has been a failure to comply with existing commitments," he added.

Under the terms of the UN's core climate convention, the burden for action before 2020 falls mainly on wealthy countries historically responsible for the rapid rise of greenhouse gases.

China is the world's top carbon polluter, followed by the United States, the European Union, India and Russia.

Developing countries sought to have a "pre-2020 agenda" formally added to the negotiating process, but the move was shelved at the start of the 12-day talks. Efforts to resolve the issue have so far been fruitless.

"It would be a bad thing if this hangs over into the second week and becomes a political issue for ministers," said Mr Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy for the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington.

"It has been a pretty sterile debate that has degenerated into a finger-pointing exercise," he told Agence France-Presse.

About 20 heads of state, including French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, are scheduled to appear at the UN climate forum next week.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 11, 2017, with the headline 'Developing world says rich nations shirking on climate'. Print Edition | Subscribe