World Leaders Lack Political Will to Make Progress at Climate Negotiations in Bonn

Statement By Alden Meyer, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published May 3, 2013 Updated May 8, 2013

BONN, Germany (May 3, 2013) – The first climate negotiation meeting of 2013 ended today with some progress on clarifying where countries stand on key issues, but saw little narrowing of the major differences amongst them.

Below is a statement by Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy for the Union of Concerned Scientists:

“The climate talks in Bonn this week produced an atmosphere of good feeling among delegates, but not enough clarity about how countries will respond more aggressively to the urgent threat of climate change. The pace needs to accelerate at the next negotiating session in June if we are to get the decisions we need on ramped-up mitigation action, climate finance, an equity framework and other key issues at the climate summit in Warsaw this November.

“As countries debate the way forward on the climate treaty regime, the climate itself continues to react to actual emissions into the atmosphere. The damages caused by the wave of extreme events around the world demonstrate that the costs of continued inaction will be substantial indeed. In Copenhagen in 2009, world leaders committed to keep the increase in global temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius, but there is a growing gap between what nations collectively need to do to meet this goal and what they have actually put on the table in terms of commitments out to 2020.

“Meanwhile, we see hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer subsidies continuing to go to pollution-driving fossil fuel companies, frenetic efforts to expand production of coal, oil, and gas resources, and very few countries moving to put a price on carbon pollution that reflects the true cost of climate impacts.

“Looking at this overall picture, world leaders are acting like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. They are committing to keep temperatures under 2 degrees while simultaneously going all out to increase fossil fuel production—even though we know that over half the world's existing oil, coal, and gas reserves have to be left in the ground if we're going to meet the temperature goal.

“The main barrier to confronting the climate crisis isn’t lack of knowledge about the problem, nor is it the lack of cost-effective solutions. It’s the lack of political will by most world leaders to confront the special interests that have worked long and hard to block the path to a sustainable low-carbon future. Until this changes, we're not going to see the action we need.”