U.N. climate talks grudgingly accept treaty draft
Author: Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent
BONN - Rich and poor countries criticized a first draft text of a new United Nations climate treaty Monday but grudgingly accepted it as the basis for six months of arduous negotiations.
"We ... have some dismay about the way it has been structured," Jonathan Pershing, head of the U.S. delegation at the June 1-12 talks among 180 nations in Bonn, said of a 53-page draft outlining ideas from all countries.
"This text should contain more balance," said Ibrahim Mirghani Ibrahim of Sudan, speaking on behalf of 130 developing countries including China and India.
Despite finding fault, delegates accepted the draft as the starting point for negotiations on a treaty due to be agreed in Copenhagen in December to curb the use of fossil fuels and widen the fight against climate change beyond the existing Kyoto Protocol.
"The session here represents a significant new step ... Governments have on the table for the first time real negotiating texts," Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, told a news conference.
"Clearly there are some hard nuts still to crack ... We have less than 200 days," he said. Offers so far of greenhouse gas cuts by rich countries, for instance, were not enough, he said.
Ideas on the table ranged from wider use of carbon markets to a proposal that rich countries set aside up to 2 percent of their gross national product to help the poor cope with global warming.
"A GOOD START"
The United States, for example, has said the first text is weighted toward the interests of developing nations and lacks a clear statement that all countries are going to have to step up action against global warming.
Developing nations say the text has more pages on possible actions by them than on cuts in emissions by the rich. The texts are full of blanks to be filled in later meetings.
In a later session, developing countries accused the rich of failing to set deep enough cuts in emissions to avert ever more heat waves, floods, rising sea levels or droughts projected by the U.N. Climate Panel.
They say U.N. rules require that reductions must be announced six months before Copenhagen, or by June 17.
"This session will be the last opportunity ... to respect the six-month rule," Ibrahim said on behalf of developing countries discussing a separate draft text about the Kyoto Protocol.
Many developing countries say the rich should cut emissions by at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 to avert the worst of climate change, far deeper than the cuts planned.
Artur Runge-Metzger, head of the European Commission delegation, hinted the EU might fail to make an offer of financing for a new climate deal until Copenhagen. Developing countries want early promises of cash to help them plan.
"It will have to be before Copenhagen, or in Copenhagen. It's a tactical issue," he told Reuters of the timing of an offer of cash. A June EU summit is due to consider climate finance but might not be able to agree details.
Outside the meeting, protesters from environmental group Greenpeace, dressed as snowmen, trees, polar bears and camels, warned delegates of the risks of climate change.
"Water me!" read a sign on a demonstrator dressed as a giant cactus.
(Editing by Andrew Dobbie)