Emerging nations pressed developed countries Wednesday to step up cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 to kick-start the Paris climate agreement, saying the rich were wrongly focused on 2030 goals.
"We came here needing to hit the accelerator, not the brakes," Brazil's chief negotiator Antonio Marcondes told Reuters on the sidelines of the November 6-17 negotiations in Germany on limiting global warming.
In 2015, almost 200 governments agreed on the Paris accord to end the fossil fuel era by 2100 and remained united last year in declaring action "irreversible" after Donald Trump, who has called man-made climate change a hoax, won the U.S. presidential election.
But that unity is fraying.
Under the Paris Agreement, most governments set targets for cutting emissions by 2030, with little focus on shorter-term milestones.
Brazil and nations including India, China and Iran now want to fill the gap with more action by 2020 to cut greenhouse gas emissions, especially by the rich, which have burned the most fossil fuels since the Industrial Revolution.
"While action on [the] post-2020 period under the Paris Agreement has gained momentum, the discussions on pre-2020 actions have lagged behind," India's chief negotiator Ravi S. Prasad said this week.
Developed nations say they are acting. European Union officials pointed to proposals on Wednesday for tougher car emissions targets, including a credit system for carmakers to encourage the rollout of electric vehicles.
Nazhat Shameem Khan, chief negotiator for Fiji, which is presiding at the meeting, said: "Clearly, there is strong appetite for a constructive and focused discussion on pre-2020.
"I think it's a generalized view ... that there hasn't been enough discussion" about what to do before 2020, she said.
Overall, she said, the talks, also working on a detailed rule book for the Paris Agreement, were advancing well and that the United States delegation was being "constructive and helpful."
Trump said in June that he would pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement, a process that will take effect in 2020, and instead promote coal and oil.
A pullout will isolate the United States since Syria, the only other nation outside the pact, said Tuesday that it would join.
Under the Paris Agreement, the period to 2020 is a gap partly because backers of the 2015 pact assumed it might take years for parliaments to ratify it. The deal entered into force in record time last November.
Camilla Born, of the E3G think tank, said the Paris Agreement was now a victim of its own success. "It's right now to shine the spotlight on more action by 2020," she said.