9 Nov 2009

Doubts climate deal will be finalised in Copenhagen

9:53 am on 9 November 2009

The world is making only halting progress towards a new agreement on mitigating climate change, New Zealand's climate change ambassador says.

The last round of negotiations have wrapped up in Barcelona ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhangen which 40 world leaders are expected to attend from 7-18 December.

Two years ago in Bali, 190 nations pledged to agree to a successor to the Kyoto Protocol by the end of this year.

Adrian Macey says there has been some progress in honing ideas into useable negotiating documents for proper debate by delegates, but other problems have cropped up.

"The African group wanted to see more ambition from the developed countries and until they saw that, they were going to block all work in the Kyoto Protocol.

"For New Zealand that poses a real problem; there are issue that we need to resolve. Rules around forestry is one, the other is around carbon trading mechanisms."

Mr Macey says this was just one of many differences at the Barcelona talks. He believes it is unlikely a new ratifiable climate change treaty will emerge out of talks at the Danish capital on 7-18 December.

"There is a sense of realism and lowering of expectation I think now pretty well universally shared, although not necessarily accepted by everybody," he says.

"We're not going to get a full ratifiable treaty outcome ... The big global comprehensive deal is not going to be finalised at Copenhagen - that's pretty clear."

Green groups at the Barcelona meeting accused rich nations of tiptoeing away from vows to reach an agreement in Copenhagen. But Dr Macey says it is likely there will be a strong political declaration and a set of decisions coming from the meetings in Copenhagen and it is not a question of despair.

"All is not lost if you don't get that full, comprehensive deal at Copenhagen. The key thing is make sure what you get puts you on track to get there."

The United Nations official leading talks on climate change also says a legally binding treaty will not be achieved at the conference.

Yvo de Boer says negotiators have struggled to agree emissions targets, compensation for the affected developing countries, and getting legislation passed in the United States ahead of the summit deadline.