Cape Town - The Rio+20 climate conference will be doomed to failure if negotiators squabble over words and neglect a commitment to concrete action, an environmental organisation has said.
"While we think some of the new text is a good base for the future, such as the language on oceans, we see a lopsided victory of weak words over action words - with the weak words winning out at 514 to 10," said WWF head of delegation Lasse Gustavsson.
The environmental organisation is concerned that negotiators at the Earth summit will defer critical decisions that could lead to a global commitment to limit carbon emissions blamed for climate change.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon conceded that nations in the run-up to the conference in Rio de Janeiro have been involved in lengthy negotiations, but said that the success of the conference should be judged on a new global pact.
"For too long we have sought to burn and consume our way to prosperity. That model is dead. At Rio, we must begin to create a new one - a model for a 21st century economy that rejects the myth that there must be a zero-sum trade-off between growth and the environment," he said.
Some feel that the agenda of the conference is too broad and may leave delegates overwhelmed.
"There is a lot of scepticism around the Rio+10 and the Rio+20 agenda. It has become a cumbersome beast that I think has too many items for action and many of those are not really actionable," Saliem Fakir WWF head of the Living Planet Unit told News24.
The Durban climate conference in 2011 was beset by political and legal manoeuvring, resulting in a last-minute agreement that some have labelled as not enough.
"It is particularly worrying that so many parties were willing in Durban to risk their real substantive progress because they could not agree on what are, in practice, largely symbolic matters," wrote Michael Levi, David M Rubenstein senior fellow for energy and environment at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Environmentalists have slammed the non-binding language of the draft agreements and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff called on countries to commit to the process which begins officially on 20 June.
About 115 heads of state and government are expected for the conference, which marks the 20th anniversary of the Rio Earth Summit that placed the environment on the world's political agenda, but US President Barack Obama and UK Prime Minister David Cameron will not be attending.
One of the key features of the negotiations will be the funding model and management of a $100bn climate fund to provide climate adaption support, particularly to poor nations.
"We don't need meaningless pages right now. What we need is a manual to save the world," said Gustavsson.