Bonn climate talks show rich and poor still poles apart

The latest round of UN talks on climate change has shown a growing rift between industrialised and developing countries.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there is a real gap between what rich countries are prepared to do about carbon emissions and what poor countries would like them to achieve.

While the UN itself is heralding the talks in Bonn this week a success, countries hardest hit by - and least responsible for - manmade climate change are asking for more money from the big emitters of carbon.

Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), shrugged of talk of a schism.

"Countries have narrowed gaps in many practical areas, for example on how to strengthen action for adapting to the impacts of climate change," he said.

"This is important progress given the very limited time negotiators have to get to an agreed outcome in Copenhagen in December this year."

Meanwhile, the world's least developed countries are demanding that more affluent countries make good on a $2bn 'promise' made at the UNFCCC summit in Morocco in 2001.

At the Morocco summit, rich countries promised support for 'immediate and urgent' actions on climate change adaptation and agreed that the 49 least developed countries (LDCs) should be allowed to draw up national action plans outlining necessary measures.

If all the plans were fully implemented, the cost to industrialized nations would be in the region of $1.6bn. So far the international fund set up to carry out these actions has only raised contributions of $200m and only a small number of suggested projects have received backing.

"The LDCs are demanding that the rich countries pledge up to US$2 billion over the next five years in order to fulfil the promise they made eight years ago," said Saleemul Huq, senior fellow in the Climate Change Group at the International Institute for Environment and Development.

"The poorest and most vulnerable countries have contributed least to climate change and will suffer most from its impacts."

"The rich countries can and must live up to their words and massively increase their funding to compensate the least developed countries."

More than 2,000 delegates from government, business and industry, environmental organizations and research institutions, participated in the Bonn meeting, which began on 29 March and is the first of three sessions planned ahead of the Copenhagen conference.

Negotiations on greenhouse gas emissions reductions to be achieved by industrialised countries after 2012 centred on issues related to the scale of the reductions, improvements to emissions trading and the Kyoto Protocol's carbon offset mechanisms, as well as concerns relating to land-use change and forestry.

Sam Bond



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