Date
17 December 2017
US Secretary of State John Kerry (second from right) talks with former US vice president Al Gore during climate negotiations in Lima, Peru. Photo: AFP
US Secretary of State John Kerry (second from right) talks with former US vice president Al Gore during climate negotiations in Lima, Peru. Photo: AFP

Time fast running out, Kerry warns Lima climate negotiators

US Secretary of State John Kerry made an impassioned appeal to negotiators at the climate change conference in Lima, Peru, warning that future generations will not be able to forgive today’s leaders if they get “bogged down in abstract debates” over how to combat global warming, the Financial Times reported.

“I know discussions can be tense and decisions can be difficult,” Kerry was quoted as saying. “But the fact is we simply don’t have time to sit around going back and forth about whose responsibility it is to act.”

As the two-week talks entered their final stretch with no final agreement in sight, the American official said the next generations would judge inaction as “a massive collective moral failure of historic consequence”.

“They will want to know how we together could possibly have been so blind, so ideological, so dysfunctional and frankly so stubborn that we failed to act on knowledge that was confirmed by so many scientists, in so many studies over such a long period of time,” he said.

The mood at the meeting was initially that of guarded optimism after US President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping last month made a joint announcement on how to tackle their countries’ greenhouse gas emissions.

The Lima talks are trying to decide what information each country will put in its pledge for the global deal due to be sealed in Paris next December.

During the negotiations, European nations and many smaller developing countries want the pledges to contain as much data as possible about past and planned emission levels so they can be easily compared, FT said. They also say the pledges should be openly scrutinized to see if they amount to enough action to stop global warming.

But several other countries, including China and Saudi Arabia, have questioned the need for such public scrutiny and suggested that only wealthy developed countries should have to produce detailed information about their pledges, the newspaper said.

“The whole thing could derail at this stage,” one delegate was quoted as saying. The talks are scheduled close on Friday.

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