The latest round of United Nations climate talks ended Friday amid a backdrop of severe flooding in Europe. The UN committee made some progress towards a "universal agreement" on climate change, according to a UN release, but other reports say the conference was marred by a procedural debate brought on by Russia.
As the two-week climate summit in Bonn, Germany ended, representatives from Russia, backed by Ukraine and Belarus, challenged the decision-making procedure in place at the U.N conference.
According to an Associate Press report, the decisions at the UN climate talks must be reached by a consensus, but exactly what "consensus" means is not totally clear, Russia and others said. Over the course of similar climate conferences, decisions on climate measures are constantly passed despite the protests of individual countries.
"Our process is very sick. We have constant problems with procedural matters and we are constantly forced to resolve problems in circumstances of haste and apprehension and anxiety," Russian climate envoy Oleg Shamanov told delegates this week.
Russia was snubbed last year at a conference in Qatar when its objections to a package of decisions which included an extension of the Kyoto Protocol were ignored, which reportedly prompted Russia to use the Bonn sessions as a venue to debate the procedure, according to the AP.
Nonetheless, Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said the meeting of nations resulted in progress towards moving from the state of exploring options to a stage of designing and implementing solutions. The UN group is working towards a 2015 goal to have a universal treaty on climate change by 2015 which would go into play in 2020. The latest round of talks paved the way for the ministerial-level UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw, Poland, starting in mid-November.
"The record greenhouse gas concentrations we now see in the atmosphere are due to past investment patterns and the policies and profit motives behind them. To prevent our atmosphere turning permanently against us requires a continued, faster shift," Figueres said in prepared remarks, as reported by the Irish Times.
The Bonn conference examined specific way of increasing financing, technology and capacity-building for rich countries, as well as looking into ways to reduce investment risk for investors and examining the effectiveness of public-private partnerships, a long-term, legally binding agreement and strong domestic institutions.
"To prevent our atmosphere turning permanently against us requires a continued, faster shift in those investment patterns and the policies and price signals that drive them," said Figueres.
The Irish Times reported "substantial progress" made on agriculture by the UNFCCC's Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice after years of talked stalled by representatives of developing countries who voiced concerns about food security.
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