Rich Countries Risk 'Wrecking' Climate Talks, Says Christian Aid

Rich countries risk "wrecking" key U.N. talks on climate change, according to an international Christian development charity.

"They have failed to commit to dramatic curbs in their greenhouse emissions, or recognize the scale of funding poor countries urgently need to cope with the impacts of global warming," reported U.K.-based Christian Aid at the close of a 12-day meeting between national government delegations who agreed to shape an ambitious international response to climate change in 2007.

The delegations, who concluded their second round of negotiations on Friday, are this year working on a post-2012 climate agreement that will replace the current Kyoto protocol.

The meetings culminate with the end-of-the-year summit in Copenhagen, where they will seek to agree on a new climate deal.

According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 2009 is a crucial year in the international effort to address climate change.

During the Bonn talks, Christian Aid said it was clear that rich countries plan to continue polluting at levels that will make dangerous climate change inevitable.

This, the charity argued, was highlighted by Japan's announcement of a target to cut its emissions from 1990 levels by only 8 percent by 2020. The new target would be only 2 percent more than Japan's existing target under the Kyoto protocol and, according to Christian Aid, is "entirely inadequate."

"Developed countries have been unable to agree on any overall target for their cuts, let alone one which will hold the global temperature rise below 2 degree Celsius – the point at which scientists predict climate catastrophe," commented Nelson Muffuh, Christian Aid's senior climate advocate. "They are wrecking the negotiations that are supposed to secure a deal by December."

Mithika Mwenda from Kenya, who serves as coordinator of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, meanwhile noted that the proposed emissions cuts of rich countries are "even weaker" than those required by the existing Kyoto Protocol.

"Rich countries' political will to make up for their historic responsibility and to safeguard poor people's lives, dignity and development is just not there," he commented. "Things have to change dramatically."

With the Bonn meeting now concluded and the first rough sketch of a new global warming agreement completed, U.N. climate delegates now look forward to the next round of talks in August, when the roughly 200-page second draft is expected to be whittled down to a more manageable size following decisions by political leaders.

World leaders, meanwhile, will meet several times later this year, beginning with a Group of Eight summit in July, with climate change on the agenda.

In his remarks, Christian Aid's Muffuh advised developed countries to prevent delays by immediately committing to urgent, deep emissions cuts.

"'Without real progress on commitments by the rich world, the negotiations will collapse," he said.

"They must come back to the next round of talks willing to act and to agree to ambitious, quantified financial support for adaptation and mitigation in developing countries, as well as technology transfer," Muffuh added.

According to some scientists, industrialized nations must cut emissions by 25 to 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2020 to prevent climate disasters, such as coastal flooding from rising sea levels, severe weather events, and variations in rainfall and temperatures that will affect agriculture and wipe out species of plants and animals.

Under the current Kyoto Protocol, 37 industrial countries are required to cut emissions a total 5 percent from 1990 by 2012. The World Wildlife Fund for Nature calculated that the current declarations from wealthy countries amount to a total emissions cut of just 10 percent by 2020.