Another round of U.N. climate talks closed without resolving how to share the burden of curbing man-made global warming, mainly because countries don’t agree on who is rich and who is poor.
China wants to maintain a decades-old division between developed and developing countries, bearing in mind that, historically, the West has released most of the heat-trapping gases that scientists say could cause catastrophic changes in climate.
But the U.S. and Europe insisted during the two-week talks that ended Friday in Bonn that the system doesn’t reflect current economic realities and must change as work begins on a new global climate pact set to be completed in 2015.
“The notion that a simple binary system is going to be applicable going forward is no longer one that has much relevance to the way the world currently works,” U.S. chief negotiator Jonathan Pershing said.
Countries like Qatar and Singapore are wealthier than the U.S. per capita but are still defined as developing countries under the classification used in the U.N. talks. So is China, the world’s second largest economy.
Finding a new system that better reflects the world today, while also acknowledging the historical blame for greenhouse gas emissions, is the biggest challenge facing the U.N. process as it seeks a global response to climate change.
“That is a fundamental issue,” said Henrik Harboe, Norway’s chief climate negotiator. “Some want to keep the old division while we want to look at it in a more dynamic way.”