Limping to Paris
Delegates Scramble to Pare Down “Bewildering” Climate Text

Negotiators have again descended on Bonn, Germany to kick off what looks to be an increasingly desperate scramble to pare down the bloated draft text delegates will be using at December’s climate summit in Paris. Things got off to a rough start, though, with UN climate chief Christiana Figueres telling those assembled that a scheduled meeting next month and the final summit itself had both yet to be paid for. “We don’t have the funding for participation for the October session or the [Paris summit]”, she said.

That’s hardly an encouraging opening announcement, considering that funding is one of the core stumbling blocks for the Global Climate Treaty. The two meetings are just a shade over one million euros short, a pittance compared to the whopping $100 billion annual fund that the developed world promised to pay into in order to help the developing world deal with the effects of climate change. So far the rich countries have only contributed just over $10 billion into that fund, a failure that you can be sure the developing world will bring up time and time again in Paris.

In that light, failing also to secure full funding for talks that are now just weeks away is more than just a PR embarrassment for the UN—it’s a warning sign for the world’s already wary industrializing nations. In Bonn, Peruvian delegate Antonio Garcia stressed the need to keep the “broader picture” in mind during negotiations, warning that green goals must be brought “in line with sustainable development and poverty eradication.” That’s a widely-felt sentiment, especially in the world’s poorer countries, which worry that emissions reductions measures might depress economic growth.

Kicking off this latest five-day session of talks, France’s ambassador to the UN climate process tried to strike an upbeat note, wishing “good luck to us all for this final marathon before December 11.” The word was in fact well chosen; with fewer than 10 days left to whittle down a document that’s been described as “bewildering”, negotiators seem to need all the luck they can get. We’ll be watching.

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