Climate talks regain footing but still dangerously near cliff edge

Published: 11th June 2010

International agency Oxfam has today warned that progress achieved during the past two weeks at Bonn will come to nothing if developed countries don’t dramatically scale up their ambition.  Whilst the mood amongst negotiators has mostly been more constructive than in April and last year, the underlying disagreements that derailed the talks in Copenhagen are still to be resolved.

“The constructive approach shown here in Bonn by many countries raises hopes that the next UN climate conference in Cancun could result in real progress. However, the glaring lack of political will from the richest, most powerful countries has become a signature tune for these talks” said Oxfam’s Senior Climate Change Policy Advisor Antonio Hill.

“As carbon emissions climb and poor people suffer avoidable climate impacts, the ‘avoid and delay’ theme song that deal makers keep singing is ‘out of tune and out of touch’” he added.

Pledged emissions targets by developed countries are still far below what’s needed to keep global warming beneath the threshold of 2°C that was agreed in Copenhagen let alone the 1.5°C threshold many small island states demand for their survival. There is also a severe lack of clarity around how much money developed countries are prepared to commit to help poor countries adapt to climate change and curb emissions. Massive questions around the nature and structure of the agreement governments are negotiating still loom over the talks.

Big moves are necessary to get these negotiations back on track to reach a fair, ambitious, and legally-binding deal. But, incremental progress at the next major conference in Mexico is within reach – on the issue of climate finance, for example. Encouraging developments in Bonn included broad support for the need to establish a new climate fund under the UN climate convention and movement towards common ground on how it will be governed. Breaking through the remaining obstacles to deliver a robust agreement in Cancun will boost trust and confidence in these negotiations that was so badly eroded in Copenhagen.

“Countries have edged closer to the ‘one stop shop’ climate fund that’s crucial to deliver on poor countries needs, they must now ensure the shelves are stocked” said Hill.

“Common finance accounting standards are essential to ensure that new, additional and adequate funding reaches the people that need it most. Cancun is the stage where this must be delivered.” he added.

Governments now have just two weeks of negotiations left before Mexico in which they must show they are serious about protecting the world’s most vulnerable people. Oxfam is calling on negotiators in Mexico to muster the political will required to at the very minimum set up the new climate fund and agree common ways to account for this money. These are key stepping stones towards achieving a fair, ambitious and binding deal that the world’s poorest people so desperately need and deserve.

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Download the report: Climate Finance Post-Copenhagen: The $100 billion questions

The glaring lack of political will from the richest, most powerful countries has become a signature tune for these talks.
Antonio Hill
Oxfam’s Senior Climate Change Policy Advisor