U.N. climate talks launch formal process to 2015 deal

by Ben Garside
Friday, 14 March 2014 19:00 GMT

A resident navigates his boat through a neighbourhood flooded by the Acre river which continues to rise from weeks of heavy rainfall in the region, including northern Bolivia and eastern Peru, in Rio Branco, Acre state, Brazil, March 13, 2014. REUTERS/Odair Leal

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* UN climate talks agree to launch work on text 

* Richer nations concede after row over process

* Green groups demand action to deploy clean technologies

By Ben Garside

BONN, March 14 (Reuters) - U.N. climate talks wound down on Friday with parties agreeing to launch a formal process to draw up text for a 2015 global deal binding all nations to curb emissions, inching ahead after two years of wrangling between rich and poor nations.

Diplomats from 169 countries gathered for the week-long negotiating session in Bonn, Germany, tasked with speeding up progress towards signing a 2015 deal to cut greenhouse gas emissions that U.N.-backed scientists say is causing rising sea levels and worsening droughts and floods.

The formal process will start at the next round of Bonn talks in June with the aim of agreeing on the main elements of a deal at a high-level session in Lima, Peru at the end of the year.

“We are now entering a serious and significant phase in the evolution of international, cooperative climate policy as we look towards both Lima and Paris,” said Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in a statement.

PROCESS ROW

A large group of developing nations had urged the talks to accelerate by moving to a formal mode of work to draw up the text, rather than the system of “open ended” verbal consultations held over the past two years.

They argued that the formal method ensures that the positions of all countries are considered, though some groups including the European Union said this risked text ballooning to unmanageable levels of hundreds of pages.

“We were concerned that we would just be getting bogged down in a lot of process, but in the end we conceded that this could be a manageable step,” said one negotiator for an industrialised nation that asked not to be named due to official policy.

PATCHWORK APPROACH

Delegates agreed last year that a new global deal, due to be struck in Paris in 2015 and to enter into force from 2020, would consist of a framework of contributions from all nations that could end a 20-year old distinction that meant effectively only developed nations had to take steps to curb emissions.

Parties are split on what these contributions should contain, with the United States wanting them to focus on emission reductions with limited external scrutiny and poorer, small island nations urging they include clear cash commitments to help vulnerable developing states.

This week's meeting also launched a year-long process of technical meetings showcasing existing technologies that could scale up reductions of greenhouse gases before 2020.

The U.N. said this week that emissions before 2020 are on track to amount to at least 20 billion tonnes above the level scientists say is needed to avert runaway climate change.

“These governments need to commit to advancing these peoples' proposals rather than just paying lip service through ineffective talkshops. The June session of these talks has to take up the implementation of these proposals,” said Asad Rehman, head of green group coalition International Climate of Friends of the Earth EWNI.

A group of poorer small island states are hoping this process will conclude in Lima with a deal to deploy pilot projects of the most promising ideas such as solar power plants in several host countries using funds from richer nations.

(Editing by Keiron Henderson)

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