Slow progress on Paris climate deal as poor nations seek more money

BONN, Germany • Disputes over financing for poor nations hampered negotiations among almost 200 countries racing against the clock to seal an accord on combating global warming at a United Nations climate summit in Paris in December.

Some delegates said last Friday they feared a repeat of the 2009 summit in Copenhagen when governments last tried, and failed, to reach a deal, though many others said they remained confident of a breakthrough at the Nov 30 to Dec 11 meeting in Paris.

"We didn't really enter in a negotiation. We can't repeat that next time" in Paris, French climate envoy Laurence Tubiana said after a week-long meeting in Bonn, Germany.

United States climate envoy Todd Stern predicted a deal would be reached in Paris despite scant progress in Bonn, the final meeting before Paris, on issues including climate finance. Many nations wanted a deal, he said, but "you still have to hack our way through specific language and it gets pretty sensitive and pretty contentious".

Developing nations, which say their views are often ignored, said climate finance was the core issue, and all sides reported scant progress on the issue in Bonn.

Poor nations want clear promises of rising contributions from industrialised nations beyond an existing goal of US$100 billion (S$139 billion) by 2020, to help them curb greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to changes such as floods and droughts.

Rich nations led by the US and the European Union want to make vaguer pledges beyond 2020, and for Paris to include new donors such as China.

Just one day after the summit, US President Barack Obama yesterday touted America's clean energy record.

"We've led by example, generating more clean energy and lowering our carbon emissions," Mr Obama said in his weekly address to the nation.

"It gives us great momentum going into Paris this December, where the world needs to come together and build on these individual commitments with an ambitious, long-term agreement to protect this earth for our kids."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 25, 2015, with the headline 'Slow progress on Paris climate deal as poor nations seek more money'. Print Edition | Subscribe