The United Nation’s top climate official says talks to generate an emissions reduction treaty by the end of the year could fail.
15 Aug 2009 - 4:01 PM  UPDATED 24 Feb 2015 - 2:34 PM

United Nations talks tasked with delivering a planet-saving climate treaty by year's end will fail unless the pace picks up, the UN's top climate official said yesterday.

"If we continue at this rate we are not going to make it," Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said at the end of a five-day negotiating session in Bonn.

"Momentum for a strong result is building at the highest political level," he said, referring to individual pledges by rich nations to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.

"But that action is not ambitious enough, and it is only half of the solution. The negotiations need to move forward much faster," he said in a webcast press conference.

Some 2,400 delegates from about 180 nations, riven by major differences, made scant headway toward hammering out a draft treaty, negotiators said.

On Friday, a document of 200 pages -- little more than a "laundry list" of national positions, according to one negotiator -- still contained "about 2,500 brackets in the text, each indicating an area of disagreement," de Boer said.

"This shows how much ground there is still to be covered."

Sharp divisions remain over how deeply wealthy economies should slash their carbon emissions by 2020, and whether commitments by developing nations should be binding.

Debate on financing to help poor nations cut their own emissions and adapt to the impact of global warming has also stymied the talks.

So far, however, much of the discussion has revolved around procedure -- parties cannot even agree on how to edit the text.

"Delegates in Bonn missed an opportunity to speed up progress of climate negotiations ahead of a series of high-level political meetings next month," the environmental protection organisation WWF said in a statement.