BONN (Reuters) - Rich nations’ emissions reductions pledges fall dramatically short of what is required to limit global warming to two degrees centigrade, a group of 43 small islands said on Tuesday at U.N. climate talks.
This week’s 185-nation conference in Bonn is the penultimate step before the next U.N. climate conference in December. Parties are trying to make progress on shaping a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.
However, rifts continue between poorer nations and wealthy countries over who should contribute the most to cutting emissions.
Currently, aggregate emissions pledges from developed countries represent a reduction of 12 to 18 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, Al Binger, representing the Alliance of Small Island Nations, said at the talks.
But the atmosphere could only see a 1 to 7 percent reduction by 2020 if rich nations exploit “imperfections” in the protocol, he said.
Such imperfections derive from accounting rules in the protocol covering land use and forestry which some green groups claim give industrialized nations too much flexibility.
There is also the issue of whether surplus sovereign emissions rights accumulated under Kyoto, known as assigned amount units (AAUs), can be carried over for use in the protocol’s next commitment period.
Under the Protocol, nations that are comfortably below their greenhouse gas emissions targets can sell excess AAUs to countries struggling to meet their own targets.
Eastern European countries in particular have billions of dollars worth left over after their economies collapsed in the wake of communism.
“If we don’t find consensus on the set of rules we could end up doing creative accounting and emissions will continue to increase,” Binger told Reuters on the sidelines of the talks.
The alliance is calling for a 45 percent emissions reduction in greenhouse gases by developed nations by 2020 to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
The European Union’s climate representative Artur Runge- Metzger said four options are being considered for changing forestry rules this week, but stressed that one needs to be decided upon before emissions targets can be set.
Reporting by Nina Chestney; Editing by Jon Hemming