Wrangling over aid to the developing world and a reluctance to set tough goals for tackling global warming are now a regular part of almost all climate talks. In fact, even before the talks begin, many write them off as a waste of money and time, accomplishing little.
This time too, two weeks have been spent in much debate about cutting carbon emissions and taking the Kyoto Protocol forward, leading to the talks being extended so that a decision is arrived at. However, as Christiana Figueres, head of the UN Climate Change Secretariat, put it, there is never going to be enough ambition to prevent more droughts, floods, heatwaves and rising sea levels. As long as the developed and developing nations continue to haggle about what they give and take, such meetings will continue to achieve little. And all along, the fact remains that international policy response is way behind what science says.
The economic slowdown at home has prompted the US, Europe and other developed nations to go slow on a timetable for a ten-fold rise in aid towards a promised $100 billion (Dh367.8 billion) a year from 2020. This would have helped developing nations curb emissions and cope with the effects of climate change.
Greenhouse gas emissions are set to rise 2.6 per cent this year and are more than 50 per cent higher than in 1990. Poor nations have also accused the rich of being reluctant to extend the Kyoto Protocol. This would require signatories to cut emissions by an average of 5.2 per cent below 1990 levels during the years 2008 to 2012. There is also a deep disappointment about the failure of developed nations to keep past promises.
At the end of the day, what remains is the fate of the Earth. Caught amid the technical language and jargon of climate change talks is the fact that global warming, encouraged by the impact of industries, has made the world a less safe place to live in. It will be good for all sides to realise that decisions at talks on climate change will decide on what type of future our children have.