Yvo de Boer, the UN's top climate change official, has today closed the latest round of talks in Bonn with the stark warning that a deal will not be reached at the Copenhagen meeting this December unless the pace of negotiations increases significantly.
Speaking at a press conference following the week-long talks, de Boer said that while some progress had been made to consolidate the 200-page negotiating text, "if we continue at this rate, we're not going to make it".
Appearing visibly downbeat, de Boer said that political rhetoric in favour of drastic action to address climate change was not being translated into the negotiating process where many of the world's largest emitters remained in a deadlock over carbon emissions targets.
"Momentum for a strong result is building at the highest political level," he said. "The G8 and the MEF are moving forward on mitigation action but that action is not ambitious enough and it is only half the solution - it is focusing on a small number of countries and only on emission reduction and not adaptation."
He said the next round of talks in Bangkok in late September would have to deliver significantly more concrete progress on a number of fronts if there is to be any chance of finalising a meaningful deal in Copenhagen. "The speed of negotiations must be considerably accelerated at that meeting in Bangkok and we must get down to mapping out how the agreement will work in practice and get away from the broad rhetoric," he added.
He said that negotiators could not afford to lose sight of the scale of the challenge that they faced, reminding them that they needed to recognise that " serious climate change is equal to game over".
De Boer also offered a stinging rebuke to those critics arguing action on climate change could be delayed, saying that Copenhagen offered the last best chance of avoiding catastrophe.
"As Copenhagen approaches, I keep hearing those who say we can delay action on climate change, that we can survive a rise of more than two degrees in temperature, that we can safely cut costs and safely cut corners, and that there are other priorities that we need to be focusing on," he said. "I believe this is a way to a global disaster. A climate change deal in Copenhagen this year is simply an unequivocal requirement to stop climate change slipping out of control."
De Boer called on world leaders to add fresh "political momentum" to the process, starting at UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon's New York climate change summit in late September.
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