Members of green groups and non-government organizations stage their walk-out from the climate talks in Warsaw. AP
Green boycott as UN talks 'deliver zero'
Weekend Australian
Saturday, November 23, 2013

WARSAW: Exasperated green groups walked out of faltering UN climate talks in Warsaw yesterday as rich and poor nations bickered about who must do what to curb planet warming. The negotiations entered their penultimate day in a stalemate over how to curb dangerous greenhouse gas emissions and channel aid to poor, climate-vulnerable states. In a dramatic flourish, six environment and development groups walked out, saying the annual talks had delivered little more than hot air, and no action, since opening on November 11.

"The Warsaw climate conference, which should have been an important step in the just transition to a sustainable future, is on track to deliver virtually nothing," said a statement announcing the groups' decision to "voluntarily withdraw". The signatories are

  1. Greenpeace founded in Vancouver in 1969 in protest at nuclear weapons testing in Alaska. Currently headquartered in Amsterdam
  2. WWF-Worldwide Fund for Nature founded in London in 1961 for the protection of endangered animals. Promoted by HRH Prince Philip. Famous for "Earth Hour". Currently headquartered in Switzerland
  3. Oxfam founded in Oxford in 1942 for famine relief in Greece. Chiefly volunteers.
  4. ActionAid founded in UK in 1972 as a child sponsorship charity for third world countries.
  5. The International Trade Union Confederation and
  6. Friends of the Earth founded in the US in 1969 as an anti-nuclear group by "Archdruid" David Brower following disagreements with the Sierra Club, a National Parks organization founded in 1893 of which David Brower became CEO and launched to higher prominence in 1952. FOE International currently has a small office in Amsterdam.

"People around the globe have a right to know about the desperate state of these negotiations," said an Oxfam statement. "The stakes are too high to allow governments to make a mockery of these talks." The groups pointed the finger at Poland for its "endorsement" of a global coal summit held in the same city and at the same time as the talks; Japan for slashing its carbon emissions goal; and Australia's decision to scrap a carbon tax on high emitters. "Talks like these amount to nothing if countries refuse to … negotiate in good faith or, worse, try to drag the process backwards," said WWF's Samantha Smith.

On Wednesday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had urged nations to "much bolder" action to stave off an existential peril for the Earth. The talks, involving more than 190 nations, are meant to pave the way to a pact by the end of 2015 to limit warming to 2C higher than pre-industrial levels. At its heart would be national pledges to tame carbon gases emitted by burning coal, oil and gas, which provide the backbone of the world's energy supply today. On current emissions trends, scientists warn that the Earth could face warming of 4C or higher.

Delegates said there had been few advances in crafting a roadmap for arriving at the historic climate deal in Paris, now only two years away. "There are still things that are very important to us where we do not see enough progress, for instance a clear timeline, and key elements of the 2015 agreement," European climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard said after late-night talks. "We are not moving forward in our discussions."

Developing countries want wealthy nations to shoulder a bigger share of emissions cuts to make up for a long history of fossil-fuel combustion. The West, though, insists emerging economies must do their fair share. Another quarrel is over money. Developing nations are challenging wealthy countries to honour a 2009 pledge to muster up to $100 billion by 2020, up from $10bn a year from 2010 to last year. Still struggling with the effects of the economic crisis, however, the developed world is wary of unveiling a detailed plan at this stage, or pledging any new short-term figures.

** End of report