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Environment

Whittling down the climate treaty

It's a race against time: By December this year, a new treaty to tackle climate change is supposed to be agreed on in Paris. For two weeks in Bonn, participants are working to pin down the finer aspects.

It's all about 80 pages - rather, it's all about removing as many brackets as possible in those 80 pages, which currently are full of bracketed text that represents overlapping and often conflicting viewpoints. Representatives from nearly 200 countries have commenced meeting at the Bonn Climate Change Conference, which runs June 1 through June 11.

This document is the forerunner for a new, binding climate treaty that is intended to be

negotiated in Paris

this November and December. It's hoped that this document will replace the Kyoto Protocol from 1997.

Speaking at the conference, German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks summed up aspirations for the talks: "If we want to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius [3.6 degrees Fahrenheit], if we set this goal together, then that would be a strong and correct signal."

Barbara Hendricks (Photo: Britta Pedersen/dpa)

German Environment Minister Hendricks spoke in favor of binding goals

Not enough commitment

Hendricks speaks for the estimated 20,000 climate experts involved in the formulation of the Paris protocol ahead of the fall conference. The variety and number of people involved don't make things any easier, as they represent many different interests.

Content-wise, the talks range from adaptation and mitigation to the consequences of climate change, along with how to finance this, as well as technologies to avoid emissions and building public awareness.

The draft document also describes how participating states will reduce their emissions after 2020. At the conference opening, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called for readiness from all: "There has never been a universal agreement, let alone about the 2 degrees. So it would be amazing."

But nongovernmental organizations questioned the political will of countries that have submitted plans to keep warming below the 2-degree mark.

Recent studies

have found that current commitments - including Germany's - will fail to attain that goal.

Funding among discussion topics

Laurent Fabius at the climate conference in Bonn (Photo: PATRIK STOLLARZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Fabius: promoting a Paris protocol

Other topics, including financial support to developing countries to deal with the consequences of climate change, continue to be debated.

By 2020, industrialized countries are to contribute $100 billion (92 billion euros) per year for climate projects in developing countries. "The particular responsibility of industrialized countries is out of the question," Hendricks said.

"That's why we want to discuss, with an eye to Paris, fair ways of financing climate protection and adaptation," Hendricks continued.

The fund, which received $9.3 billion of pledges as of last November, is intended to provide subsidies and loans to poorer countries to deal with the consequences of climate change. These include droughts, floods, and loss of land due to sea level rise, among other things.

Struggle for consensus

French Ecology Minister Segolene Royal criticized this consensus-based format: "I get the impression that every time decisions have to be taken they are postponed until next year," Royal was quoted as saying in "Le Monde."

"The UN negotiations are totally unsuited to the climate emergency," Royal said.

Quelccaya Glacier in Peru

Signs of climate change: The melting Quelccaya Glacier in Peru

Fabius announced that he would seek to host two more rounds of ministerial meetings in Paris ahead of the big conference, in July and September. The goal would be a UN climate deal "pre-agreement" as early as October.

Conference attendees are also looking to the upcoming G7 summit, to be held June 7 and 8 in Bavaria. "The G7 meeting would have to send an appropriately clear signal," Hendricks told a German radio broadcaster.

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