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Climate Talks Inch Ahead as EU, Australia See a Step Forward
2010-12-05 01:47:00.310 GMT
By Alex Morales and Kim Chipman
Dec. 5 (Bloomberg) -- The United Nations made headway at
global warming talks as the European Union, Australia and
Lesotho said a text sketching out a compromise between rich and
poor nations on limiting greenhouse gases was a step forward.
The proposal, which suggests options for ministers meeting
in Cancun, Mexico, calls on the world to limit temperature
increases since the 1700s to "below 2 degrees Celsius."
Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and
Evo Morales of Bolivia will be among 25 leaders at the talks.
"The pieces of the puzzle are now known," Peter Wittoeck,
a Belgian envoy who speaks for the 27 members of the European
Union, said yesterday. "The coming week will be decisive in
piecing them together."
The comments at an open meeting of the delegates last night
raise the chance that envoys from 194 nations can bridge
differences about a package to curb global warming after Brazil,
China and India led developing nations in voicing concern about
the lack of ambition for the talks this year.
Since negotiations in Copenhagen collapsed without a new
legally binding agreement in December 2009, UN officials have
scaled back the scope of the talks. This year's effort may
produce a package of measures to protect forests, verify
emissions reductions and channel $100 billion a year in aid to
nations struggling to adapt to climate change.
Delegates from Pakistan and Norway also said the
discussions are progressing. Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe, the
Zimbabwean envoy who drafted the proposal, said "important
agreements" can be reached in the Mexican resort.
Basis for Negotiation
"The draft text provides a good basis for negotiation,"
said Gordon Shepherd, head of the global climate change
initiative at the environmental group WWF. "What is missing is
a clear and formal recognition that there is a significant gap
between current pledges and the goal" of limiting temperatures.
Divisions also remained. Bolivia's envoy Pablo Solon drew
loud applause when he called the text "unbalanced" and listed
a series of grievances his delegation had with it, including the
lack of effort to curtail temperature gains more quickly.
"This paper lacks sufficient ambition for the urgent
protection of islands and the world in the context of the threat
of climate change" said Grenadian Ambassador Dessima Williams,
who speaks for 43 island and low-lying nations. "It requires
U.S. delegation chief Jonathan Pershing said the document
"isn't yet complete." Selwin Hart of Barbados said more detail
is needed on institutional arrangements that would help the most
vulnerable nations adapt to the effects of rising temperatures.
The paper lacks formal status and is separate to a formal
negotiating text that delegates worked on at their last meeting
in Tianjin, China, in October.
"It's time for us to change the mode of our
negotiations," said Ian Fry, the envoy from Tuvalu. "We now
have to take ownership of this document and have it as a
negotiating text into which parties can put their views."
One issue that has threatened progress is the fate of the
Kyoto Protocol, the current emissions-limiting treaty. Japan has
said it refuses to accept commitments beyond 2012 when current
ones expire. Bolivia and Venezuela say said they can't accept
any decision that doesn't ensure the continuation of the treaty.
"We need to redouble our efforts," Mukahanana-Sangarwe
said. "The work ahead requires important compromises."
The new document includes options for developed countries
as a whole to accept aggregate emissions targets. It urges them
to increase the level of ambition of their greenhouse gas
reduction pledges, which the UN Environment Program said Nov. 23
aren't enough to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius.
Separately, two panels set up to defuse the most
controversial issues in the talks made proposals for an outcome
in Cancun. One suggested an emissions target for the U.S.
"comparable" to those given to other developed countries under
the Kyoto Protocol. The other gave options for developing
nations to limit pollution.
Venezuela and Bolivia, threatening to derail the talks,
earlier this week led a group of Latin American nations saying
that any agreement had to include fresh commitments from rich
nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
In Copenhagen, U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese
premier Wen Jiabao were among about 30 leaders who drafted an
informal accord that set goals to reduce emissions and promised
to work toward keeping temperature gains to 2 degrees Celsius.
Bolivia and Venezuela were among six nations to reject the deal
because they weren't consulted.
"There are two scenarios for next week," said Martin
Kaiser, climate policy expert at Greenpeace. "The worst-case
scenario, but still a likely outcome, is that they will bury the
Kyoto Protocol here. The best-case scenario is that parties can
agree on some building blocks towards a global deal next year,
with a clear timeline and a clear mandate to do so."
For Related News and Information:
Top environment and renewable energy stories: GREEN <GO>
Stories about the climate talks: NSE CLIMATE CANCUN <GO>
Locations of global energy facilities: BMAP <GO>
--With assistance from Kim Chipman in Cancun. Editors: Reed
Landberg, Will Wade
To contact the reporter on this story:
Alex Morales in Cancun, Mexico, at +44-20-7330-7718 or
To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Reed Landberg at +44-20-7330-7862 or