Last climate talks before Paris begin with disagreements over draft

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The last round of climate talks ahead of a decisive summit in Paris started Monday in Bonn, Germany, with delegates struggling to smooth out tensions about a draft agreement to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius.

With only six weeks left before the summit begins, tensions have cropped up about the amount of funding promised by rich countries to nations that will bear the brunt of climate change. Organizations have said that a 20-page draft agreement doesn’t go far enough.

“The draft agreement is dangerously weak,” Jan Kowalzig, an expert with Oxfam, told dpa. “In all the important areas it does not fulfll the minimum requirements for an ambitious and just agreement.”

The 20-page draft sets a goal of limiting global temperature increases to either 2 or 1.5 degrees Celsius, but leaves a hard target up for debate. Many of the specifics of the text were left blank, indicating that they would likely be points of discussion.

It also includes plans to boost climate finance for poorer countries so they can better adapt to changes already under way in the Earth’s environment, and mitigate the extent to which they continue to pollute.

Climate financing goals are currently set for 100 billion dollars per year. The draft agreement says the mobilization of resources should be scaled up starting in 2020.

Progress has been hailed by key observers, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who has said he expects the summit in Paris to be a success. During the last major global summit, in Copenhagen in 2009, countries did not come to an agreement on taking action.

Nearly 150 countries have already submitted an outline of national commitments to Paris before the talks, outlining their plans for limiting carbon emissions. But analysts have said that the accumulated commitments won’t ensure that world stays under the 2-degree-Celsius temperature rise limit.

Activists have also argued that the proposed financing doesn’t go far enough to address the years during which rich countries bolstered their economies by industrializing without having to limit their pollution.

“What we are seeing as the Bonn talks open is rich countries setting the stage for a great climate getaway in which they shift the burden of responsibility for tackling the climate crisis onto the shoulders of the poor,” Friends of the Earth Scotland campaigner Mary Church said in a statement.

Greenpeace also called for Germany to take the lead in crafting tougher goals for phasing out fossil fuels.

Scientists say the 2-degree-Celsius cap is the limit to avoid the worst effects of carbon emissions and global warming – including extreme weather conditions, melting polar ice caps, rising sea levels and eroding coastal regions.

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