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Playing for time while the planet heats up

By Mohamed Adow | 9 June 2011

As the UN climate talks get underway in Bonn, I am overcome with a sense of trepidation.

I arrived with great expectations of influencing the positions and outcomes of the talks.

I planned to lobby the climate negotiators on substantive issues to secure the future of the global climate regime.

But instead I’ve found myself in the middle of a power struggle with countries wrangling over what’s in the agenda. And this isn’t the first time.

Frustratingly, this seems to be a pattern of such talks – at the climate talks in Bangkok the parties spent four whole days fighting over the agenda.

Why the fight?

This struggle between the world leaders all boils down to what they want to get out of the talks. A strong, fair and binding deal can only be achieved if the crucial issues of adaptation and financing mechanisms make it onto the agenda.

If these are left off, then legally-binding science and equity-based emissions reduction commitments may never be made.

As I finally sat through the plenary session (after it had been postponed several times), I started to consider how urgently we must confront climate change.

As our leaders put off making commitments, our planet continues to burn. The incidence and severity of extreme weather events is increasing – with drought ravaged poor farmers filling the pages of local newspapers in my home country of Kenya.

The need for us to speak out and to insist on bigger and faster progress to stabilise the climate system has never been more urgent. Without it, we risk failing to secure a sustainable future for all.

It seems to me that rich countries want to continue emitting dangerous levels of carbon, and are trying to shift the burden of cutting and 'MRVing' (policy jargon for 'measuring, reporting and verifying') emissions cuts to developing countries.

And it’s precisely because of this that they are fighting over the agenda at these talks.

That is why, together with other climate advocates, I am here on behalf of Christian Aid’s partners to remind our leaders that the climate problem will only be solved through cooperative action.

They need to set aside their differences, and work together in good faith through an open and democratic process, and take the important steps needed to tackle the threat of climate change.

I’ll be updating you as the talks progress, so keep an eye on @ca_campaigns for my tweets direct from Bonn. 


 About the author

Mohamed Adow

Mohamed Adow is Christian Aid's senior global advocacy adviser

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