BRUSSELS — High-level UN talks starting later this month in South Africa should lay down a new "road map" leading to a comprehensive climate deal by 2015, Europe's top climate diplomat has said.
"Between now and 2015, we should agree on the more detailed things in this road map, but already we should agree on the principles and the timetable," Connie Hedegaard, the European climate commissioner, told journalists on Thursday.
"Obviously, for the EU, we think the sooner the better. We know what should be done. Three years should be enough," she said. Negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have made little progress since the stormy Copenhagen Summit of December 2009.
That meeting had been designed to finalise a "road map" set down in Bali, Indonesia, in 2007 — but it skirted disaster as leaders squabbled over how to share out cuts in carbon emissions.
The next UNFCCC talks take place in Durban from November 28 to December 9.
By 2015, Hedegaard noted, the UN's climate science panel will have published its fifth major report on global warming and its impacts, giving policymakers the information they need to take decisions.
On Thursday, small island nations facing rising seas driven by warming slammed the slow pace of the climate talks and suggestions by Japan and Russia that a 2015 target for a global agreement is unrealistic.
Russia's top climate diplomat said such a deal was more likely for 2018 or even later.
Such proposals are "both environmentally reckless and politically irresponsible," Joseph Gilbert, Grenada's environment minister, said on behalf of the 42-nation Association of Small Island States (AOSIS). — AFP
Hedegaard's statement compares with a September proposal by Australia and Norway for a climate deal that would lock in commitments from all major carbon-emitting nations by 2015.
The Australia-Norway scheme calls for a scaling up of national carbon-cutting targets and the step-by-step construction of an international system for verification, either as an extension of the Kyoto Protocol or a new treaty.
The objective would be "a new, legally-binding Protocol for all Parties" — including developed and developing countries — in 2015.
The Kyoto Protocol currently only covers some three dozen rich nations that account for about 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
China, the world's top carbon emitter, was excluded at the outset as a developing nation, and the United States — the No. 2 global polluter — opted out after playing a major role in crafting the treaty.
On October 10, the EU said it would not sign up for a new commitment period under Kyoto unless other major carbon polluters agreed to lay out clear "roadmap" for a binding deal.