Loopholes criticised by climate talks observers

United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres says progress was made at the Bonn talks as she tries to build a framework for a successful COP16.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) executive secretary described the lead up to the talks as ‘trying to cook a meal without a pot’.

But following the close of the talks at the end of last week she explained the pot has ‘almost’ been made, giving renewed hope to a successful outcome for COP16 in Cancun Mexico later this year.

She explained the outcome of the talks saying many governments believed a set of COP decisions which quickly operationalise key elements of the Bali Action Plan would be an achievable outcome of Cancún.

This means countries could agree to take accountable action to, for example, manage and deploy climate finance, boost technology transfer, build skills and capacity to do this and deal with adaptation, especially in the poorest and most vulnerable countries.

The Bali Action Plan, agreed in 2007, serves as a basis for work under the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA). The negotiating group is tasked to deliver a long-term global solution to the climate challenge.

Progress at Cancún would also include a mandate to take the process inexorably forward towards an encompassing agreement with legally binding status, which would take more time, Ms Figueres added.

However, charity Friends of the Earth fear loopholes could be used by the European Union and other countries with historical responsibility for climate change, to maintain current emissions levels. Together they more than outweigh the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions pledged in Copenhagen last year.

Climate campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe, David Heller, said: “It’s outrageous that loopholes in the targets mean Europe won’t even fulfil the commitment it has made to an inadequate 20% reduction in emissions by 2020.

“The massive amount of offsetting allowed in the agreement cancels out all meaningful reductions. Developed countries must stop hiding behind technicalities in the negotiations and close these loopholes. Europe must commit to 40% emissions cuts by 2020 without offsetting.”

Luke Walsh

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