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Barcelona climate: Afternoon updates from the Africans, EU

Jeff Tollefson; cross-posted from In the Field

Following up on yesterday’s agreement, the leader of the African Group said during an afternoon press conference he is “guardedly optimistic” about the talks going forward.

But Sudan’s Lumumba Di-Aping refused to give any ground on developing countries’ demands that rich countries curb emissions by 40 percent by 2020. Current proposals aren’t even close to that number, and most political leaders in the United States and Europe consider that goal unattainable. Asked about a compromise and assessments that achieving a 40 percent reduction could be a “heavy lift,” Lumumba cited the massive financial investments that followed the economic crisis in suggesting that developed countries are simply lacking the will to act aggressively in response to the climate crisis.

“It cannot be heavy lifting, unless you say that some people are more equal than others,” Lumumba said. “We cannot accept total destruction as a choice for developing countries in order to simply appease some political leaders in the West.”

Speaking at a press conference an hour later, European officials fell back on the EU position of unilaterally cutting emissions by 20 percent by 2020 and 30 percent if there is a global agreement. Sweden’s chief negotiator, Anders Turesson, said those commitments are in line with the science and urged developing countries to put pressure on other rich countries that have not yet announced positions (read: United States) and others whose current offers are “insufficient.”

The talks are now “on track, moving forward,” said Artur Runge-Metzger, chief negotiator for the European Union. “But of course we’ll have to see during the coming days what kind of resonance we get from the African Group” and other developing countries.

More to come soon on the state of REDD talks ( reducing deforestation and forest degradation) and Brazil’s climate change discussions.

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