UN negotiators ‘playing politics’ amid climate crisis
MADRID, Dec 9: UN negotiators meeting in Madrid have been accused of "playing politics" while the climate crisis grows. The talks - now in their final week - are bogged down in technical details as key countries seek to delay efforts to increase their pledges, observers say.
Ministers are due to arrive in the Spanish capital this week to try to secure an ambitious outcome. US presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg is due to attend, while Greta Thunberg will also address the meeting.
Up to half a million people took part in a march in Madrid in support of rapid climate action, but according to observers, negotiators haven't got the message. "The problem is while hundreds of thousands of people are marching outside in Madrid, and school children are striking, countries are playing politics with the negotiations," said Mohammed Adow, director of Power Shift Africa, a climate and energy think tank based in Nairobi, who's an observer at these talks,
"We need ministers to arrive this week and make some real progress." Inside the convention centre, the central question of increasing country pledges to cut their carbon has been pushed aside as negotiators resort to protecting national interests.
Back in 2015, everyone signed up to the Paris agreement and put new plans on the table that are due to run from 2020.
However the richer countries were supposed to undertake specific carbon cutting actions in the years between 2015 and 2020, which many haven't yet achieved. Here in Madrid a group of countries including China, India and Saudi Arabia are pushing for these pre-2020 commitments be adhered to - even if it means achieving them post-2020.
Observers believe this is partly a negotiating tactic designed to put pressure on richer nations in any discussions about improving pledges in the period after 2020. There is frustration that countries are focussing on trying to get advantages in the talks, instead of working together to increase ambition.
"The Paris agreement is clear: all countries agreed to deliver new climate targets by 2020, and as the recent UNEP emissions gap report made clear, the onus is on the top 10 polluters to deliver," said Laurence Tubiana, one of the key architects of the Paris agreement, now with the European Climate Foundation. -BBC