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Environment

UN climate conference ends amid frustration

The latest round of climate talks closed in Bonn, Germany on Friday, amid frustration over continuing divisions between various blocs and little progress towards reaching a deal.

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Jonathan Pershing, chief US negotiator at the climate talks

Delegates from around the world had gathered to discuss how to replace or extend the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. Kyoto calls on industrial countries to reduce emissions but makes no demands of developing countries like China and India, which have emerged as major polluters.

On Friday, the chief US delegate, Jonathan Pershing said this round of talks appeared to have taken the process backward. Without being specific, he added that some countries were reneging on promises they had already made last year to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Pershing told Reuters news agency that negotiators were putting too much onus on rich nations to deliver cuts, rather than seeking global commitments.

He added that some countries were seeking "staggering sums out of line with reality."

Meanwhile, developing nations argued that they are running out of time. Pa Ousman Jarju from the Gambian delegation is the lead negotiator for the African Group. He said the effects of climate change were already being felt in his country, adding that they expect to lose some 92 square kilometers of land as a result of sea level rise.

"We've had severe droughts over the years and rainfall variability which impacts on agriculture, forestry, wildlife and development in general. We are one of the most vulnerable countries in the world." he said.

Jarju was unimpressed with the negotiations in Bonn. "It's very disappointing. Everything is slow. We are not seeing the leadership that is required from the developed country parties."

Profit vs protection

Euros mit Nickel

Who should pay for climate protection?

In an interview with Deutsche Welle, Joachim Ehrenberg of the European Commission said the real challenge is reconciling business interests with intiatives for climate protection. The EU, he said, is keeping close watch on countries with industries that compete with those in Europe, especially the emerging economies of India and China.

The main concern, he explained, is that emission cuts would increase production costs. If no global agreement is reached, industry may leave Europe and seek out cheaper options in countries with fewer restrictions, Ehrenberg said.

"Reducing CO2 emmissions costs and if only one part of the world agrees to submit itself to such costs, that impacts on those who have to pay."

But Ehrenberg added that reconciliation in terms of industry is perfectly possible, if all nations agree to ambitious targets. "Such a solution would also be satisfactory from a competitive point of view."

However, observers say it is unlikely that a climate deal will be reached at the next climate convention in Cancun, Mexico, in November.

Author: Saroja Coelho
Editor: Anke Rasper

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