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Lima climate talks get ugly as developing countries slam UN officials

Developing countries accuse co-chairs of subverting negotiations

Nitin Sethi  |  New Delhi 

As Climate talks began in Lima in Peru, Greenpeace activists from seven countries projected a pro-solar message at the Temple of the Sun in Machu Pichu, Peru. Activists have urged all the nations to work for a 100 percent renewable energy future by 2

Diplomatic battles at Lima climate talks got ugly on the second day, with many developing countries ramping up their attack on the two UN officials chairing the talks, alleging bias and subversion of process.

Developed countries, led by the US, demanded that references to their grouping making predictable, enhanced and adequate finance available for poor countries be dropped from the draft text of the 2015 Paris agreement. Switzerland insisted that unless a paragraph calling for new commitments of finance after 2020 was left out of the text, there would be no agreement in Lima, reported officials of Oxfam America, which is taking notes at the talks.

Developing countries demanded that the two co-chairs — Artur Runge-Metzger, selected earlier from the EU negotiating team, and Kishan Kumarsingh from Trinidad and Tobago — start formal negotiations on the basis of the text from the nations and not others’ cherry-picked ideas, which they found biased. The UN officials did not relent.

The push-back from the grouping has become stronger — developing country were relatively polite on day-one — as talks moved on to closed-door meetings on the second day.

Malaysia, speaking on behalf of the G77+China group, criticised the method used by the officials. China went hammer and tongs, too. It said the approach the past year had not been real negotiations, and added that it was concerned by the co-chair’s proposal that the “secretariat takes notes” of the countries’ proposals and, subsequently, “take it back home to cook in their kitchen”. But the co-chairs did not relent. Runge-Metzger said “we will get to that stage”, suggesting that they would continue to drive the negotiations in the near future and not the countries.

The talks were suspended on Tuesday night and would continue on Wednesday, when India is slated to speak. “We are going to raise serious concerns about this process on Wednesday. It is just not right. The co-chairs are being more than unreasonable,” said an Indian official speaking to Business Standard from Lima.

Meena Raman of Third World Network, an observer organisation at the talks, said: “In a co-chair driven process, they can pick and choose what proposals they take on board ... and not reflect all the options and views on the table.”

Runge-Metzger defended their way of working: “This is not the last time to go through the text. We are choosing this methodology of work for the next four days so that it is clear where the sticky points could be...”

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First Published: Thu, December 04 2014. 00:46 IST