Group: Lack of Urgency at Climate Talks is 'Shocking', 'Scandalous'

LONDON – U.K.-based Tearfund has criticized world governments for what the Christian relief and development agency described as their “shocking lack of urgency” shown during the first week of negotiations at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Nairobi.

The organization said this had to be overcome if significant progress is to be made on cutting global emissions in the future and helping poor countries to adapt to global warming.

More than 100 nations have gathered in for the conference, now in its second week, but have yet to reach agreement on when they will start serious negotiations to determine steps in cutting CO2 emissions when the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol agreement runs out in 2012.

There also remains no agreement on how crucial global funds will be managed in order to help poor countries adapt to the heat waves, droughts and storms they currently face as a result of climate change.

“There is a scandalous lack of urgency about these talks,” said Andy Atkins, Advocacy Director of Tearfund. “There is widespread agreement around the world that climate change is one of the most serious threats facing humanity, but you would not know that listening to some of the debates here in Nairobi.

“It is like being in a small sinking boat and everyone is debating when we should start seriously baling out the water. We are seeing a shocking lack of urgency.”

Tearfund is calling for strong leadership from the U.K. and other leading countries, similar to the political will that last year saw the G8 Summit in Gleneagles deliver some breakthrough decisions to benefit poor people in developing countries.

“We need a major investment of political will this week, with more effort from nations on different sides of negotiations to reach agreement,” said Atkins.

“We are calling on the British Secretary of State for the Environment David Miliband and fellow ministers from around the world who arrive midweek, to ensure that this climate change summit does not go down as one that failed millions of poor people around the world whose lives and livelihoods are already being adversely affected.”

Critical decisions to be made this week include:

• A timetable for negotiations on a post-2012 framework for cutting global emissions, which Tearfund and other agencies believe should be completed by 2008.

• An increase in finances to help poor countries adapt to climate change, including crucial decisions about which international organization will manage the crucial Adaptation Fund and how that is carried out.