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Rich-poor bickering over aid stymies U.N. climate talks

Source: Thu, 6 Dec 2012 19:00 GMT
Author: Reuters
Reuters
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* Poor nations want timetable for releasing ${esc.dollar}100 bln in aid

* No major nations set goals for cutting gas emissions

* EU aid promises not enough to unlock Doha - poor nations

* Green groups say Doha talks on brink of collapse

By Barbara Lewis and Alister Doyle

DOHA, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Bickering over when rich nations will step up aid towards a promised ${esc.dollar}100 billion by 2020 to help developing nations tackle the effects of climate change threatened to derail talks in Doha between 200 countries.

Environmental activists said the two-week talks, due to end on Friday, were "on the brink of disaster" after rich nations failed to set dates for releasing the promised cash or to set goals on curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

Offers of new aid from European nations failed to ease the standoff over demands for a timetable for a tenfold increase in aid towards a goal of ${esc.dollar}100 billion a year by 2020.

National pledges by Germany, Britain, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and the EU Commission in Doha totalled more than 6.85 billion euros (${esc.dollar}8.95 billion) for the next two years - more than in 2011-12.

But developing nations said they wanted a clearer commitment by nations including the United States and Australia for more.

A group of leading environmental groups - including Greenpeace, the WWF and Oxfam - said they were launching "an emergency call to governments to save Doha from disaster".

"This has been almost a laughable exercise," said Kumi Naidoo, the head of Greenpeace.

LOW AMBITIONS

The Doha meeting has had low ambitions from the start, and failure would be less spectacular than at a U.N. summit in 2009 when world leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama did not sign up to the new global package to combat climate change.

Only Lebanon, the Dominican Republic, Belarus and Ukraine have set new emissions targets at Doha, as delegates also haggled over an extension of the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol that bound about 35 rich nations to cut emissions by at least 5.2 percent below 1990 levels during the period from 2008 to 2012.

World greenhouse gas emissions are set to rise 2.6 percent in 2012.

"There is very little time left. I encourage you to step up your efforts," conference president Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah of Qatar told delegates on Thursday night. OPEC member Qatar has disappointed many by failing to curb emissions.

Scientists also said the Doha talks failed to reflect the necessary urgency. Many delegations expressed alarm at the typhoon that killed almost 400 people in the Philippines this week.

"We are not on track," Michel Jarraud, head of the World Meteorological Organization, told Reuters. "Scientific evidence is getting stronger."

The European Union, Australia, Ukraine, Norway and Switzerland are willing to make further legally binding cuts in emissions under Kyoto beyond 2012 until 2020.

But they account for less than 15 percent of world emissions. Russia, Japan and Canada have pulled out, saying it makes no sense to continue when big emerging nations led by China and India have no binding goals.

And Washington never signed up for Kyoto. Kyoto backers still see it as a blueprint to help unlock progress on a deal last year to work out by 2015 a new, global agreement to fight climate change that would enter into force in 2015.

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