LE BOURGET, France - Angry developing nations warned Thursday that UN talks aimed at averting catastrophic climate change would fail unless a bitter feud over hundreds of billions of dollars was resolved.
Negotiators from 195 nations are haggling in Paris over a planned universal accord to slash greenhouse-gas emissions that trap the Sun’s heat, warming Earth’s surface and oceans and disrupting its delicate climate system.
Taking effect from 2020, the pact would target emissions from fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas — the backbone of the world’s energy supply today.
The question of finance to help developing countries make the shift to cleaner energy sources is “make or break”, said South African negotiator Nozipho Mxakato-Diseko, who spoke on behalf of the G77 group of 134 developing and emerging countries including China.
“It has to be clearly understood that finance is critical,” she told a news conference.
At stake is hundreds of billions of dollars that would need to start flowing from rich to developing nations from 2020. However the developed nations have yet to fully commit to the financing deal.
Gambia’s environment minister, Pa Ousman Jarju, also demanded money for poor nations to pay for the fallout of climate change events — known as loss and damage.
“If loss and damage is not addressed adequately, there will be no agreement in Paris,” he said.
“There is not going to be any other, second Paris. This is the time. This is the moment.”
More than 150 world leaders including President Barack Obama launched the talks Monday, seeking to build momentum for the tough negotiations ahead with lofty rhetoric about the urgency of the task.
But after three days of grinding discussions over a hugely complex 54-page draft pact, bureaucrats unveiled a document just four pages shorter and with vast stretches of text yet to be agreed.
“I don’t see any translation of the rhetoric of the leaders of the world into working towards tangible outcomes in Paris. This is very, very dangerous,” Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sosene Sopoaga said.
Ministers from around the globe will descend on Paris Monday to try to transform the draft prepared by diplomats into a universal accord to avert planetary overheating. The conference is scheduled to end on December 11.
“At this rate, when ministers arrive next week they will wonder what progress has been made since world leaders took to the podium in Paris,” said Greenpeace’s head of international climate politics Martin Kaiser.
At the core of the talks is the goal of limiting average warming to a maximum of two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels.
Kaiser said long-term goals were now clearer in the draft, though it did not call for fossil fuels to be phased out by 2050 so as to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius — a more ambitious target being pushed by low-lying island nations at risk of sinking into rising seas.
“On other parts of the text, there’s been even less progress,” he warned.
The number of undecided options littering the text — 250 in total — remain unchanged, said Matthieu Orphelin, spokesman for French environmental group Fondation Nicolas Hulot.
“We have only got 48 hours. The negotiations have to accelerate,” he said.
The World Wide Fund for Nature’s head of delegation, Tasneem Essop, said the draft was “mostly unchanged” from when negotiators landed in Paris.
“Right now, they’re still just rearranging the deck chairs on the ship to get a better view of the iceberg,” it said in a statement.
Nevertheless, she said the text contained the core elements for an accord, and the results could have been worse.
“It is good to see that despite some fears the text has not ballooned further with lots of new insertions.”
Despite the concerns, French Environment Minister Segolene Royal said negotiations were advancing.
“It is normal for it to take a day or two for negotiations to get into gear,” she told AFP.
“It is unthinkable to imagine failure.”
Senior Indian negotiator Ajay Mathur said there was a “huge” amount of work going on behind the scenes.
“Given the urgency, we are in good shape although we could work faster,” he said.
Scientists warn time for action is running out, issuing ever-louder warnings that steadily growing carbon emissions will doom future generations to rising seas and worsening floods, storms and drought — a recipe for hunger, disease and homelessness for many millions.
Bonn-based climate analysts Germanwatch issued a report saying Honduras, Myanmar and Haiti topped the list of nations hardest hit by two decades of extreme weather events such as storms and landslides that killed more than half a million people.