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Broken Promises and Procedural Tricks Slow UN Climate Talks

Today – As two weeks of UN talks conclude observers warn that broken promises on climate action by rich industrialized countries is hampering progress toward a new agreement.

“The two weeks started with a Ministerial event on raising pollution targets for the year 2020 – but the cupboard was bare.” Meena Raman, negotiation expert with Third World Network, a Malaysian-based NGO that follows the talks said.

“All countries agreed in 2012 that 2014 was the year that developed countries’ targets would be revisited and increased. That increasing targets hasn’t happened sends the absolutely the wrong signal to developing countries.” Raman said.

“One sign of incremental success we’ve seen in this process is the formal establishment of the Green Climate Fund last month. The Fund is a potential vehicle to deliver the finance needed to drive an energy transformation globally and to help the most vulnerable communities deal with climate impacts.” Brandon Wu, senior policy analyst with ActionAid said.

“We’ve got the vehicle ready and had hoped this session of talks would put the key in the ignition, but unfortunately the climate finance commitments made previously are still outstanding.” Wu said.

Climate change protest“Compounding the broken promises on pollution cuts we’ve also seen procedural shenanigans going on here. Many of the developing countries have been calling to get into proper negotiations on text, so we can start forging a future agreement. Developed countries refused to actually negotiate on substantive proposals here, pushing us off schedule.” Raman said.

“The new round of talks turned their attention to land-use rules for the first time. These will be very important to small-scale farmers and pastoralists in developing countries, the wrong set of rules will set up a raft of risks including the buying up of soil due to its carbon-mitigation potential.” Teresa Anderson, an International Research Officer with ActionAid said.

“We want to make sure the talks on agriculture and land don’t start off wrong-footed. They need to be focused on how to support farmers in developing countries to deal with the impacts of a changed climate, not on hair-brained soil carbon accounting tricks.” Anderson said.

The talks will continue in a session in October before the annual UN climate summit in Peru in December. They are working towards a new agreement that will increase climate action in the pre-2020 period and setup rules for the post-2020 era.

Observers hope that the UN will release a draft text compiling countries’ positions before the next session of the talks, in order to focus discussions.

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