Standoff between rich and developing countries remains as the COP18 talks in Qatar enter the final stretch.
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2012

UN climate talks are heading into the final stretch with a host of issues unresolved, including a standoff over how much money financially stressed rich countries can spare to help the developing world tackle global warming.

That issue has overshadowed the talks since they started last week in Qatar, the first Middle Eastern country to host the slow-moving annual negotiations aimed at crafting a global response to climate change.

A draft agreement was presented on Friday night, but there was disagreement on several key issues.
Two members of the Arab Youth Climate Movement were taken
away by UN police on Thursday after they held up a banner at the
calling for Qatar to take a stronger leadership role [Youtube]

“Developing nations are hoping for firm commitments on aid from richer nations. Developed countries are willing to provide help but are unwilling to commit to specific targets because of the global financial turmoil,” said Al Jazeera’s Nick Clark, reporting from the talks in Doha.

“There’s also a last-minute attempt to extend the Kyoto Protocol [climate treaty], which expires at the end of this year, in about three weeks’ time,” said our correspondent.

He said that the final day of the conference has gone into overtime and that and agreement is expected by 3 am [12AM GMT].

Developed countries, many of which face unpopular austerity measures at home, are being asked to show how they intend to keep a promise to raise climate funding for poor countries to $100bn per year by 2020 – up from a total of $30bn in 2010-2012.

Seyni Nafo, a member of the African group of negotiators, told Al Jazeera that the increase of “extreme weather events” such as floods and droughts mean “a catastrophe for Africa”.

“What we were looking for when we came to Doha was means of implementation…because developed countries have made pledges to deliver on finance and pledges to deliver on the second period of the Kyoto Protocol, which is the only legal instrument to curb developed coutries’ emissions,” said Nafo.

“This is right now, as we speak, not on the table.”

‘Promises upon promises’

Developing countries say they need at least another $60bn between now and 2015 to deal with the fallout from climate change, such as rising sea levels, and convert to cleaner energy.

“We are not going to leave here with promises upon promises,” said Gambia delegate Pa Ousman Jarju, who represents a group of least developed countries. “The minimum that we can get out of here is a demonstration that there will be $60bn on the table moving onward.”

The European Union and the United States have refused to put concrete figures on the table in Doha for new 2013-2020 climate funding, even as pledges have trickled in from individual EU member states.

National pledges by Germany, Britain, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and the EU Commission in Doha
totalled more than $8.95bn for the next two years – more than in 2011-12.

“It has become very clear that the US delegation hasn’t brought much on the table, bot on financing and mitigation reductions,” said Martin Kaisar, Greenpeace spokesman.

“So President [Barack] Obama now has to move specifically on the financing part because developing countries are asking for $60bn for the next three years. This enables those countries to make the transformation from oil and coal dependency towards renewable energy,” Kaisar told Al Jazeera.

Only a handful of countries – Lebanon, the Dominican Republic, Belarus and Ukraine – set new goals for curbing greenhouse gas emissions during the Doha meeting.

Meanwhile, Greenpeace and five other activist groups accused rich nations of pushing the talks to the “brink of disaster,” while a small group of warming sceptics appeared at a side event where they dismissed the entire process as a sham to transfer wealth to the poor world.

A British activist even managed to slip into a conference hall where he addressed a plenary session, apparently mistaken for an official delegate. A tweet from the UN climate secretariat said he was “debadged and escorted out” of the venue “for impersonating a party” and violating the conference’s code of conduct.

UN climate conferences, bringing together nearly 200 nations, are notorious for missing deadlines.

From the start, the Doha talks had low ambitions, so failure would be less spectacular than at a UN summit in 2009 when world leaders including US President Barack Obama fell short of a new, global package to combat climate change.