UN's New Climate Chief Says Final Deal Unlikely in Her Lifetime
2010-06-09 13:33:30.869 GMT
By Alex Morales
June 9 (Bloomberg) -- Christiana Figueres, a Costa Rican
who on July 8 will take the helm of the United Nations body that
organizes global climate-change treaty talks, said an all-
encompassing deal is unlikely to happen in her lifetime.
Governments must instead focus on making incremental
efforts to end global warming because the response "is going to
require the sustained effort of those who will be here for the
next 20, 30, 40 years," Figueres, 53, told reporters today in
Bonn, where the latest two-week round of talks is taking place.
"I do not believe we will ever have a final agreement on
climate change, certainly not in my lifetime," Figueres said.
"If we ever have a final, conclusive, all-answering agreement,
then we will have solved this problem. I don't think that's in
More than 190 nations are trying to reach a global deal to
cut emissions from polluting industries such as power and cement
after efforts to craft a treaty at a summit in Copenhagen in
December failed amid recriminations among developed and
developing countries. Figueres said she's confident governments
will meet the challenge, and Brazilian, Indian and European
envoys in Bonn said trust is returning to the talks.
Since Copenhagen, countries have made progress in
discussions about climate aid, tackling deforestation, Laurence
Graff, a negotiator for the European Commission, said today in a
panel discussion with fellow delegates in Bonn.
"It was high time to get into substance and that is what
we see happening," Graff said. "There is a new dynamic and
it's a result of the fact that trust is being restored."
In Denmark, U.S. President Barack Obama, Chinese premier
Wen Jiabao and about 25 other leaders devised the Copenhagen
Accord, a non-binding agreement that failed to win the approval
of all delegates as an official UN text.
The document set a target of limiting warming to 2 degrees
Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), laid out emissions reduction
targets for developed nations, and agreed on $30 billion of
climate aid from richer to poor nations.
"During Copenhagen, the atmosphere of constructive
dialogue was destroyed and the largest casualty was mutual
trust," said Chinese Climate Change Ambassador Yu Qingtai.
Yvo de Boer, the current executive secretary of the UN
Framework Convention on Climate Change, the post Figueres will
take, told delegates today he doesn't see the UN talks
delivering adequate goals to cut heat-trapping gases in the next
decade. Figueres said current emissions cuts promised by nations
aren't enough to meet the accord's temperature goal.
'Not Half Full'
"The effort we are making here is to tease out of the
economic, political and social situation that each country has
what can be delivered in an incremental fashion," she said.
"I'm very confident that it's the rapid evolution of technology
that's going to allow us to increase the ambition."
The accord has now been accepted by more than 120 nations,
and Zimbabwe's Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe, who leads one of
two main strands of the talks, has incorporated parts of it into
an official text that has been discussed in Bonn.
Collin Beck, a Solomon islander who is vice chair of an
alliance of 43 island nations, said there has been a "lot of
goodwill" in the Bonn talks, which began on May 31 and end this
week. Brazilian envoy Sergio Serra said there's a "big
difference" in the atmosphere of talks and India's delegation
chief J.M. Mauskar called the meeting "positive," with
delegates talking to, rather than at, each other.
"The glass is not half full yet but it's starting to fill
again," said Figueres.
Tensions remain. Beck and Bangladeshi envoy Quamrul
Chowdhury both said a legally binding treaty needs to be agreed
on at the next major summit in Cancun in November and December.
Delegates from the European Commission and Japan have
already said a treaty is unlikely this year and more probable at
a 2011 summit in South Africa. Brazil's Serra said a deal is
preferable this year, though unlikely, and that Cancun should be
seen as a "stepping stone."
"If we can't deliver at Cancun, and if we are shown the
road to Cape Town or any other cities, it will be unfortunate,"
Chowdhury said. "To build trust we have to come up from our
boxes, from our party positions. We have made some effort but we
have to cover many more miles."
Figueres said it's up to nations to decide whether they
want to devise a new legally binding treaty in Cancun, which is
to start in late November. She said the ever-changing science
means any agreed upon goals may need to be revised further.
"Whatever we do is not going to be enough but we still
have to hold the bar very high," Figueres said.
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--Editors: Randall Hackley, Reed Landberg
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