The issue that has prevented a major advance in the battle against global warming for two decades scuttled progress at the latest United Nations gathering aimed at forging a climate pact by 2015: how much rich nations should pay to help developing countries build their economies with clean-energy sources.
The United States and the European Union wanted a firm deadline set at the conference in Warsaw for each of the 195 countries party to the talks to make commitments on emissions reductions that would be enshrined in a new global climate pact at a meeting in Paris in 2015
But China, India and a self-proclaimed group of “like-minded” countries resisted setting a deadline for specific commitments, arguing that they shouldn’t be required to make the same investments to reduce carbon output as rich nations that created the problem of greenhouse gases by burning fossil fuels during their largely unregulated industrialization in past centuries.
With China now emitting more carbon than any other country, the Western countries have balked at committing to what they see as an increasingly outdated financing model.
After a 30-hour marathon of closed-door negotiations that concluded Saturday, the two-week Warsaw conference fizzled to an inconclusive end, with drafters of the final document substituting the word “contributions” in the place of “commitments.” That allowed both sides to claim victory, with the U.S. and Europe having secured their “deadlines” and the developing nations bloc able to define for themselves what “contribution” each is prepared to make to reduce emissions.
A rich-versus-poor dispute also hampered progress on a proposed “loss and damage mechanism” to provide aid to countries hit by major disasters thought to be related to climate change. The United States and the European Union, although willing to help poorer countries fight the effects of climate change, objected to taking on legal obligations for severe-weather events.