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October 24, 2021
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At U.N. climate talks, growing frustration at ‘snail’s pace’

Image: Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), listens during a news conference after a week long preparatory meeting at the U.N. in Geneva February 13, 2015. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

By Alister Doyle

BONN, Germany (Reuters) – The “snail’s pace” of progress on an agreement to combat climate change caused widening unease at U.N. negotiations on Friday, with time fast running out before a Paris summit at which a global accord is due to be reached.

The United Nations said the talks were on track for the Nov. 30-Dec. 11 summit after a week of negotiations in Bonn made progress in clarifying options about everything from cuts in greenhouse gas emissions to raising aid to developing nations.

“We all would want to see this baby born,” Christiana Figueres, head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, said of the U.N. agreement meant to chart ways to fight global warming beyond 2020 by almost 200 nations.

“Of course we are all impatient, of course we are all frustrated,” she told a news conference, referring to efforts to pin down emissions cuts to limit heatwaves, floods and rising sea levels. “We are … on track with the Paris agreement.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has in recent weeks criticized the negotiations as progressing at a “snail’s pace”.

Ahmed Djoghlaf, an Algerian who co-chairs the Bonn meetings, bristled at the description. He said Ban’s office was on the 38th floor of the U.N. building in New York. From so high up “you don’t see what is going on in the basement,” he said.

“We are making progress… We will be on time in Paris,” he told a news conference.

There is just one more formal five-day session left, in October, before the summit. A group of protesters in Bonn, urging faster action, sang “It’s the final countdown”.

Senior officials said they had successfully clarified many options in the 83-page draft text, while leaving hard choices for the Paris summit.

Governments asked Djoghlaf and his American co-chair Daniel Reifsnyder to present a new streamlined draft text in early October, outlining clear choices.

“It’s time for a step change. The real deal needs to start taking shape,” European Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said.

“This is their shot to get it right,” Alden Meyer, of the Union of Concerned Scientists, said of the planned draft, adding he felt there was still enough time to line up a deal for Paris.

Overriding choices, for instance, range from a goal of phasing out fossil fuels by 2050 favored by many developing nations to no deadline at all, favored by many OPEC states.

Some environmental groups said negotiators should make the tough decisions now. “Governments have failed us in Bonn,” said Martin Kaiser of Greenpeace, saying that negotiators should set a goal to phase out fossil fuels by mid-century.

France plans to invite world leaders to the opening of the Paris summit to encourage negotiations, France’s climate ambassador Laurence Tubiana said. “There is no plan to have a political declaration” signed at the start, she said.

(Reporting By Alister Doyle; editing by John Stonestreet)

Copyright 2015 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

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