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Climate talks deadlocked as countdown starts for final week
by Staff Writers
Doha (AFP) Dec 3, 2012

Rich world must repair climate damage: NGOs
Doha (AFP) Dec 3, 2012 - Dozens of NGOs urged the rich world Monday to repair the harm it has done to poor countries through global warming, saying the issue risked becoming "the biggest social injustice of our time."

In an open letter to cabinet ministers heading to UN climate talks in Doha, Qatar, more than 40 civil society groupings called on governments to create a "mechanism for compensation and rehabilitation."

"Poor countries and communities least responsible for the global climate crisis are also the most vulnerable," said the document that claims to speak on behalf of more than a million people concerned by climate change.

"Given historic inaction by developed countries, we are heading towards the biggest social injustice of our time."

The letter was signed by bodies like the WWF, Greenpeace, Oxfam and ActionAid and issued mid-way through UN climate talks straining to come to an agreement on extending the Kyoto Protocol on curbing Earth-warming greenhouse gas emissions and helping poorer countries.

"The past 12 months have provided some of the starkest indicators that climate impacts are unfolding much faster than previously modelled. This year has seen an increasing number of severe floods and droughts and dramatic melting of Arctic sea ice -- all cause for alarm," said the letter.

"In spite of these realities, political leaders are still failing to act with sufficient ambition" or to help developing countries adapt.

The developing world, responsible for the bulk of man-made climate change since the industrial era, must urgently cut greenhouse gas emissions, help poorer nations adapt, and repair the loss and damage they suffered, said the letter.

UN climate negotiators bickered in Doha on Monday over cash and commitments needed to curb Earth-warming greenhouse gases, even as fresh alarm bells were rung about the perils the planet faces.

Halfway through 11-day talks, nearly 200 nations remained far apart on issues vital for unlocking a global deal on climate change, said delegates at the talks in Qatar's capital.

Poor countries were insisting Western nations sign up to deeper, more urgent cuts in carbon emissions under the Kyoto Protocol after the pact's first round of pledges expires at year's end.

They were also demanding the rich world commit to a new funding package from 2013 to help them cope with worsening drought, flood, storms and rising seas.

Resolution of both questions should smooth the way to a new treaty that must be signed by 2015 and enter into force in 2020 to roll back global warming.

"What gives me frustration is that we are very far behind what science tells us we should be doing," UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) chief Christiana Figueres told a press conference, but added she retained "hope."

Some delegates began to voice fears of deadlock ahead of ministerial-level talks, starting on Wednesday, to crown the annual negotiations under the UN banner.

A new study warned Sunday that Earth could be on track for warming above five degrees Celsius (nine degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100 -- at least double the 2C (3.6 F) limit targeted by the UN.

It follows other research which said polar ice-cap melt had raised sea levels by nearly half an inch (11 millimetres) over the last two decades, and that Arctic ice shrivelled at an unprecedented rate in 2012.

The head of the International Energy Agency (IEA), Maria van der Hoeven, warned Monday that limiting warming to 2C "is becoming more difficult and more expensive with every passing year."

And the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), gathering nations at high risk from warming-induced rising sea levels, said: "Time is running out to prevent the loss of entire nations and other calamities in our membership and around the world."

Despite the warnings, observers say the Doha talks have become stuck.

One problem is discord within the European Union (EU) on whether individual nations should be allowed to hold on to unused greenhouse gas emissions quotas -- so-called "hot air".

These leftover allowances, estimated to total about 13 billion tonnes of CO2, were allotted under the first leg of Kyoto.

EU member Poland and some other countries insist on retaining their tradeable "hot air" into the followup Kyoto period -- a move vehemently opposed by the developing world and island states who say this will further raise greenhouse gases to dangerous levels.

The Doha talks are meant to set a timeframe and country targets for the second period of Kyoto.

The first leg of the protocol bound about 40 rich nations and the EU to curbing emissions but excludes the two biggest polluters -- the US, which refused to ratify it, and China.

On criticism that the European Union's 20 percent reduction target was not ambitious enough, the bloc's climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard said one should also look at countries like the US, China and Russia that are making no commitments under Kyoto.

"Since 1990... emissions in the EU decreased by 18 percent while in the United States it increased by 10.8 percent. There is this challenge for all of us to do even more."

Another area of bustup is money.

Developed countries are being asked to show how they intend to meet a promise to raise funding for poor nations' climate mitigation plans to $100 billion per year by 2020 -- up from a total $30 billion in 2010-2012.

The developing world says it needs a total of $60 billion from now to 2015 -- but no commitments have been made.

United States chief negotiator Todd Stern told a press conference that these were "obviously challenging fiscal times", but his country had every intention to continue funding "to the greatest extent that we can".


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Kyoto under the microscope in quest for new climate deal
Paris (AFP) Nov 29, 2012
As the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol draws to a close, the world will dissect its record for successes to emulate in the fight against global warming - and pitfalls to avoid. If all goes well, Kyoto will eventually be superseded by a new worldwide treaty, whose design is being negotiated at UN talks in Doha, Qatar. Its job would be to limit global warming to a manageable two degrees ... read more

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