Durban, South Africa – The first week of global talks on climate change seem to have yielded little progress and expectations for decisive decisions on key issues at the end of the UN conference remain low.

Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Christiana Figueres however said talks were progressing well and some good work has been done.

“We will see a good decision on adaptation plans. Durban will move forward with adaptation,” she said.

But commenting on the climate change talks in Durban, Bobb Orr, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Strategic Planning told journalists in New York that he thought it was safe to say that “expectations are low for this conference of parties and yet it is an important meeting.”

Orr said that the conference was happening against a “very real world challenge” that was presently evolving and that since the UN meeting in Cancun, Mexico last year, science had revealed several worrisome developments.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reported this year that greenhouse gases concentrations in the atmosphere had reached record levels and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change (IPCC) had produced an extensive report on extreme weather and disaster risk reduction indicating if emissions were allowed to spin out of control, the likely frequency of hot days will increase by a factor of ten in most regions of the world.

Countries at the Durban climate change talks remain divided over the two main issues at the heart of the discussions at the 192-party UN Climate conference: a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol which ends in 2012 and the Green Climate Change Fund.

China, India and Brazil agree that extending the global accord on tackling climate change is essential but the list of countries not signing up for a second commitment period continues to grow and now includes Russia, Japan and Canada. The United States has never adopted the treaty which commits 37 industrial countries to limit carbon emissions.

Attempting to keep the Kyoto Protocol alive, the European Union has proposed the so-called EU Roadmap, a global deal on emissions cuts to be reached by 2015 and implemented by 2020.

Head of the Polish delegation, Tomasz Chruszczow said meetings have been held with numerous groups during the Durban climate change conference.

“Getting an agreement on the roadmap with clear time lines is one of the EU’s absolute priorities,” he said at a press conference on Friday.

U.S deputy special envoy for climate change, Jonathan Pershing said discussions have not yet been held with the EU on their ‘roadmap’ but in any event they would only be interested in an agreement which will include all countries.

Discussions on the Green Climate Change Fund that will channel US$100 billion a year in aid to developing nations have also faced some blockage.

Countries including the United States, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Venezuela have raised concerns about the fund including its legal personality, national designated authorities and the role of the private sector.


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