THE latest round of UN climate negotiations opened in Bonn,
Germany, this week, with a renewed sense of optimism after
significant moves by the world's biggest polluters: the United
States and China.
Two days before the talks opened, President Obama announced
plans that would mean emissions from coal-power plants would be cut
by 30 per cent. The regulations overseen by the Environmental
Protection Agency allow the President to bypass the House of
A day later, reports from Beijing quoted a senior Chinese
official, He Jainkun, who said that China would, for the first
time, agree to a cap on absolute emissions; previously, it had
committed only to linking them with its economic growth.
Such moves, it is hoped, will usher in a new, more co-operative
atmosphere to the international talks at which nations have
promised to strike a global climate-deal by next year's meeting in
The two-week Bonn "intersessional" is the first time that
countries have met since they signed off on reports by the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which showed that there
was still time to tackle global warming, and that action now would
be cheaper and more effective than delay.
To that end, representatives in Bonn have been asked to outline
what action they will be taking between now and 2020, when any deal
struck in 2015 will come into force.
These Bonn talks are also significant because countries agreed
to send energy and environment ministers to speed up negotiations.
Some developed nations, however, including many from nearby EU
countries, have pulled out.
This has proved particularly embarrassing because of the
positive steps taken by China and the US, which now may make the
traditionally progressive EU countries look weak.
The senior climate-change adviser at Christian Aid, Mohamed
Adow, said: "The countries which have failed to send their
ministers should be embarrassed with their no-show. This
ministerial had been agreed by all parties at last year's summit in
Warsaw, and to see this broken undermines the good news coming out
of Washington and Beijing."
One opportunity for countries to show their commitment is by
pledging money to the recently opened Green Climate Fund, created
to dispense $100 billion which was promised by developed nations in
2009 to fund climate projects around the world.
Joe Ware is Church and Campaigns Journalist for Christian