by Mariette LE ROUX
LIMA:- Negotiations for a world pact to curb potentially disastrous global warming shift into high gear Tuesday with ministers and the UN chief joining officials in Lima.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will in the morning open the “high-level segment” of the December 1-12 talks, which see ministers bring political muscle to the notoriously fraught climate bartering process.
With four days of scheduled negotiating time left, parties remain deeply divided on key aspects of a deal they undertook to ink in Paris in December next year, and to implement from 2020.
Draft decision texts were unveiled on the eve of the VIPs’ arrival. They that reflect a broad variety of national views on how best to slash greenhouse gas emissions in the urgent quest to limit average global warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial levels.
The documents will form the basis for political negotiations among ministers, who will also hold bilateral discussions with Ban.
“We look forward to ministerial discussion injecting new impetus into the negotiation,” Italian delegate Francesco le Camera said Monday.
“Time is of the essence. We have just 12 months left before Paris. It is important to make as much progress as possible in the remaining days.”
The Lima talks have two main tasks: drafting a negotiating outline for the Paris deal and reaching agreement on the format for carbon-curbing pledges that nations are to submit from the first quarter of next year.
But negotiators do not see eye to eye on some basic questions.
Will there be differentiation in the responsibility assigned to rich and poor nations for curbing Earth-warming greenhouse gas emissions?
Must rich nations commit in writing to financing, and to climate adaptation aid for the developing world?
Will pledges be assessed for adequacy?
– ‘A lot of disagreement’ –
United States envoy Todd Stern said Monday that the text on national pledges, which must be finalised in the Peruvian capital to allow nations to start drafting, remains “the subject of a lot of disagreement.”
A key division is the concept of differentiation.
Developing countries want rich nations to bear a bigger share of the burden for curbing soaring Earth-warming emissions, which requires a costly shift from cheap and abundant fossil fuels to less polluting energy sources.
But developed nations like the United States and Australia point the finger at major developing emitters like China and India that rely heavily on fossil fuel to power their rapid growth.
Poor countries and small island states at high risk of climate change-induced sea level rise also demand written guarantees of finance and assistance for adaptation.
But the European Union and other developed states say the focus must be on mitigation — the climate jargon for emissions cuts.
Another sticking point is whether there will be an assessment of national pledges and their global impact on the two-degree goal, with China emerging as a strong opponent last week.
Ban, who hosted a leaders’ summit in New York in September that yielded vows of renewed political commitment, will seek to build on that momentum this week.
Last week, Ban said he wanted to “keep ambitions high”.
Ministers will meet Tuesday on the tough issue of climate finance, followed Wednesday by talks on the hot potato of “differentiation”.
Scientists say the world is on target for four degrees Celsius, or more, with a resulting increase in extreme events like hurricanes and storms, sea-level rise, floods, droughts and desertification.