Bonn climate talks end with no agreement on key areas.

Progress made on technical issues, but non government groups criticise slow and convoluted pace of negotiations

* John Vidal, environment editor,  guardian.co.uk, Friday 17 June 2011 17.33 BST

 

Christiana Figueres of the UN climate secretariat speaking at the climate talks in Bonn.

Two weeks of tense global climate talks wrapped up on Friday, with countries insisting they had made progress on technical issues but accepting they were still nowhere near agreement in the three key areas of finance, greenhouse gas emission cuts and the future of the Kyoto protocol.

Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN climate secretariat, defended the UN against charges by non-governmental groups that the talks were painfully slow and convoluted, saying the economic crisis in Europe and elsewhere was making it harder to make progress.

“Climate [change talks] are the most important negotiations the world has ever seen, but governments, business and civil society cannot solve it [climate] in one meeting. Countries are being very creative, exploring all options,” she said at the close of the conference in Bonn.

Figueres warned that there could a gap between commitment periods for the Kyoto Protocol, the only global treaty legally binding rich countries to cut emissions – the first phase of which ends in 2012. “Governments can double their efforts and come forward with middle ground solutions and options which are acceptable to all sides,” she said.

The EU, which was challenged to lead negotiations by committing itself to a second round of Kyoto, said developing countries had to prove they had met all agreements made in Copenhagen and Cancún last year.

“We are ready for an international deal … but we need everyone aboard. A second commitment period on its own is not going to cut it. We need to see more progress [in other areas],” said Jozsef Feiler, EU spokesperson.

Non-governmental groups said they were deeply frustrated at the snail pace of negotiations and whole days lost while countries debated the agenda of the talks.

Bolivia, which was isolated at the end of the Cancún talks when it insisted on deeper emission cuts, said it was worried at the lack of ambition. “There have been some small advances in technical issues, but no advance at all in the key issue of pledges for emission reductions. If there are no new pledges [soon], we face a very difficult situation,” said Pablo Solon, ambassador to the UN in New York.

“The developed countries are not moving. The problem we face is that we are on a path to [warming of] 4-5C. That is the reality. That worries us very much. The problem is the lack of ambition,” he said Quamrul Chowdhury, a negotiator with the G77 group of developing countries, said that the talks were like the end of a long cricket test match with both sides playing for a draw. “No-one wants to lose anything at this stage.” “Europe should use its power to secure a second commitment period of Kyoto, even if only as a stop-gap before the creation of an entirely new global deal,” said Mohamed Adow, senior adviser on global advocacy for Christian Aid. China evacuates 500,000 as flooding breaks worst drought in 50 years Water levels on 40 rivers, including the Yangtze, above safety limits as authorities warn of dykes and dams under pressure.

 

In Zhejiang province, China, the worst drought in 50 years.

China has evacuated more than 500,000 people from deadly floods that are devastating areas in the south of the country following the worst drought in 50 years.

At least 105 people have been swept to their deaths or killed in landslides and another 65 are missing after rivers burst their banks. The authorities have issued the highest level of alarm about dykes and dams under dangerous pressure. Television channels that were only recently broadcasting images of dried-up lake beds are now carrying footage of flooded homes and boats plying their way through inundated streets. China Daily said 550,000 people have been forced to leave their homes.

The dramatic shift is in line with weather trends identified by the Beijing Climate Centre, which says rain is coming in shorter, fiercer bursts, interspersed by protracted periods of drought.

The worst affected province is Zhejiang, where some stretches of the Qiantang river have risen to their highest level since 1955, according to the Flood Control and Drought Relief Office.

In the Zhuji district, which has had 40.5cm of rain since the start of the month, the Puyang river inundated 88 villages and 13,000 hectares of crops. In neighbouring Jiangxi province, troops have helped 122,400 residents evacuate from vulnerable lowlands, according to the China News Service. Roads have been closed and bridges have collapsed in the floods, which have also affected Hubei, Hunan, Sichuan and Guizhou provinces.

Monitoring stations on 40 rivers have recorded water levels above the safety limit, including Asia’s biggest waterway – the Yangtze – which is simultaneously suffering a flood downstream and a drought closer to its source.

Meteorologists warned that the torrential downpours are forecast to move southwards or inland. Li Xiaoquan was quoted on China’s weather news website as saying that the rains were expected to affect Sichuan, Chongqing and Guangdong provinces before easing on Sunday.

Additional reporting by Cecily Huang

06/17/2011 – 12:00

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