October 13, 2010 / 3:02 PM / 7 years ago

Faith in U.N. climate talks hinges on Cancun: Hedegaard

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The relevance of United Nations climate talks could be thrown into doubt if no progress is made at the next big meeting in Cancun, Mexico, Europe’s climate chief said on Wednesday.

“If Cancun is a big disappointment, achieving nothing or not much, then I think a lot of governments around the world will start to say: What comes out of this process?” climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard told the Reuters Global Climate and Alternative Energy Summit.

“The world’s citizens will be sick and tired if all we achieve at Cancun is a blame game over who is to blame for not doing things,” she added.

Hedegaard said that despite difficult U.N. talks recently in Tianjin, China, concrete decisions could still be made at Cancun on contentious areas such as emissions from forestry and measures for adaptation to climate change.

“I think Cancun could provide a decision on forestry. I think we will come out of that deadlock,” she added. “And of course, the developed countries must deliver what they pledged in Copenhagen on fast-start finance.”

“I think it’s crucial, or else the international negotiations will lose momentum.”

Two other U.N. fora are also struggling to deal with the issue of climate-warming emissions. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) failed to strike a long-awaited deal on emissions from ships this month.

And last week, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) struck a weak deal on emissions from airlines, which the EU plans to tackle by including them in its Emissions Trading Scheme, which forces industry to buy pollution permits.

The measure is hotly contested by some American airlines.

“We will definitely keep fighting for the inclusion of aviation in the Emissions Trading Scheme,” said Hedegaard. “The bottom line is that we are including aviation in the ETS from 2012, and it is our interpretation of the ICAO meeting that we can continue to do so.”

Hedegaard said she would follow the demands of EU ministers by preparing for unilateral action on shipping emissions if IMO has not made progress by the end of 2011.

“I think it is very sad that IMO basically has not been able to make substantial progress in this area for many many years,” she said. “When is enough enough? I think we’ve been very patient with that process.”

“I will soon invite a number of stakeholders to a very informal discussion -- if we were in the situation where we have to address this in Europe, what would be the best way forward?”

Reporting by Pete Harrison

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