Crunch Time for Emissions Talks
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Crunch Time for Emissions Talks

    Representatives from more than 190 countries are trying to hammer out an agreement to stop global warming. They have gathered in the German city of Bonn this week for a United Nations meeting on greenhouse-gas emissions.

    Envoys from developing countries have rejected a draft proposal and say they want more guarantees of help from industrialized nations. The discussions represent the final working-level talks before the major climate-change conference known as COP21, next month in Paris.

    Delegates discussed a proposal for a new agreement to fight global warming. The document calls on all countries to make concrete efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Some participants complained that the text lacks details about specific responsibilities, and they say industrialized countries need to be clear about offering financial support.

    "It's extremely unbalanced and lopsided to the extent that it jeopardizes the interests and positions of developing countries," said a South African delegate. Others urged the talks forward. "We must defend as much as we can on the text. Joint agreement and decisions we need to agree on in Paris," said French delegate Laurence Tubiana.

    The chairperson of the working group is expected to put together a new version of the draft, but concerns are growing over the wide gap between developed and emerging economies. A UN panel on climate change has warned that global warming will lead to a high risk of severe and irreversible global impact if the international community does not commit more resources to mitigation efforts.

    Japan's Meteorological Agency says the average temperature has risen by about 0.7 degrees over the past century. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says greenhouse gas emissions should be cut to nearly zero by the end of this century to keep the rise in global temperature to within two degrees of the levels observed before the industrial revolution.

    Delegates at the conference in Bonn are worried about the draft emissions proposal. "They all see the urgency with which we need to act. We hope that they will be small and surgical that we can have a text we can really negotiate," said a German representative.

    Negotiators are trying to agree on a new international emissions reduction framework. The Kyoto Protocol, which was adopted 18 years ago, only obliges some industrialized nations to cut their emissions. But now, 149 countries have proposed emissions reduction targets. Their greenhouse gas emissions account for nearly 90 percent of the world total.

    Although many developing and emerging nations are positive on reducing their emissions, there remain obstacles. One of them is India, which ranks third in the amount of its greenhouse gas emissions. Earlier this month, the country presented a reduction plan to the United Nations, pledging to cut its emissions by about one third by 2030 from the 2005 level.

    The country's rapid economic growth is not being felt in rural areas and more than 300 million people, or 30 percent of India's population, live without electricity. India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi is planning a five-fold increase in power generation from renewable energy resources. The nation's solar power project will cost an estimated $167 billion, reliant on financial and technological assistance from developed countries.

    With its high level of energy-saving technology, Japan is helping developing nations to achieve the twin goals of securing stable power supplies and fighting global warming. It is offering technical assistance for the construction of a coal-based thermal power plant in Indonesia, and has pledged to provide more than $1 billion to the Green Climate Fund, the second-highest amount after the United States.

    Participants at next month's COP21 in Paris believe it offers the best chance to reach an agreement, as the US and China are now showing positive stances toward reduction efforts. The focus will be on how nations can come together to find a way forward.