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UN Global Warming Talks Blocked By Russia Set Back Six Months

Alessandro Vitelli & Stefan Nicola . Bloomberg

The United Nations global warming talks have been set back by six months after Russia and its allies blocked progress at a group charged with implementing decisions of the 190 nations involved in the discussions.

The Subsidiary Body for Implementation at the UN talks failed to complete any work at two weeks of meetings in Bonn that finished today because Russia, Ukraine and Belarus objected to the group’s agenda.

The delay means envoys will have to redouble efforts when they meet in November in Warsaw, and some decisions may be delayed until 2014, said Quamrul Chowdury, the lead negotiator for the Least Developed Countries group of nations. The talks are aiming to adopt a treaty in 2015 that would limit fossil fuel emissions blamed for damaging the climate.

“Practically speaking we have lost six months,” Chowdury said in an interview. The Warsaw conference will have to address the SBI’s agenda from Bonn well as its own, he said. “There is a danger some items will have to be forwarded to next year.”

The negotiations sponsored by the UN are seeking to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which limits greenhouse gas pollution from industrial nations. Officials meeting in Bonn were supposed to draft decisions and decide on further actions that are formally approved by the Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change at the end of the year.

Russian Roadblock

At the Bonn meeting, work under the Subsidiary Body for Implementation, or SBI, failed to address any items since June 3, when Russia, Ukraine and Belarus blocked the agenda. The three nations want the SBI to include in its agenda a formal discussion of meeting procedures, which have never been agreed.

Russia, Belarus and Ukraine objected to the conclusion of the last UN climate meeting in Doha. They were upset about the body’s decision to restrict their ability to sell surplus Kyoto permits in the eight years to 2020.

Regardless of the holdup, nations have had “very good informal exchanges” on many SBI agenda items, said Jurgen Lefevere, deputy head of the EU delegation.

“Issues raised by Russia, Ukraine and Belarus have to be discussed,” Lefevere told reporters today. “We will use the time between Bonn and Warsaw to address the issues so that we have no blockage when the Warsaw COP starts.”

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