Developing countries round on US, allies as UN climate talks wrap up
Developing countries rounded on the United States and its allies at emergency climate talks Sunday, accusing the world's richest nations of stalling on a deal aimed at preventing runaway global warming.
But talks foundered over the key issue of how efforts to limit climate change are funded and how contributions are reported.
Delegates representing some of Earth's poorest and smallest nations said on the final day of the summit that the US and other Western economies had failed to live up to their green spending commitments.
"Developed countries are responsible for the vast majority of historic emissions, and many became remarkably wealthy burning fossil fuels," said Amjad Abdulla, the head of a negotiating bloc of small island states.
The Paris deal, struck in 2015, aims to limit global temperature rises to less than two degrees Celsius and to below 1.5 degrees if possible by the end of the century.
To do this, countries agreed to a set of promises, including to establish an annual USD 100-billion fund to help developing nations react to our heating planet.
But the details of the final rulebook are subject to intense debate.
The US and other developed economies want less oversight on how their funding is gathered and more flexibility over how future finance is structured.
But developing nations insist they need predictable and open funding in order to effectively plan their fight against the fallout from climate change.
"We want to do our bit, but how can we trust them? Show us the money," the negotiator said.
Delegates ended talks Sunday with an agreement to hand over technical discussions to a panel of experts, who will continue to meet before the COP 24 kicks off in Katowice, Poland, at the start of December.
Patricia Espinosa, the UN's climate change secretary, told reporters progress had been made in Bangkok "on most issues" but that "no issues have been fully resolved yet".
The issue of climate finance was "very difficult and politically sensitive", she added.
The Bangkok talks were organized as an emergency negotiating session after little progress was made at previous rounds towards a final rulebook.
Under the timeframe set in Paris, the guidelines must be finalized by the end of 2018.
While delegates made some headway on areas such as new technology and carbon markets, activists said the US -- with Western acquiescence -- had stonewalled momentum on the key funding issue.
"If they remain stuck in their positions and fail to loosen their purses, this treaty may collapse."
The US under President Donald Trump will leave the Paris process in 2020, but multiple delegates in Bangkok told AFP it was still actively hindering progress in talks.
One senior negotiator said the US was "poisoning" the atmosphere of trust that led to the Paris accord.
Activists also called out the European Union, Britain and Australia for falling into line with Washington's position.
A State Department official told AFP US negotiators would "continue to actively participate in ongoing climate negotiations -- including negotiations to develop guidelines for implementation of the Paris Agreement -- to protect and advance US interests".
Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said the rate of climate change was rapidly outstripping the political effort to curb it.
"As this summer's devastating wave of heatwaves, wildfires, floods, and other extreme weather events across the world makes abundantly clear, the Earth's climate system is unimpressed by politicians' rhetoric."