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New UN Climate Text Under Fire As Talks End

Date: 15-Jun-10
Country: GERMANY
Author: Alister Doyle

Rich and poor nations alike criticized a new blueprint for a U.N. climate treaty on Friday as two weeks of talks among 185 countries ended with small steps toward an elusive deal.

A streamlined climate draft, meant to help talks on a new pact, cut out some of the most draconian options for greenhouse gas and dropped all references to "Copenhagen" -- where a U.N. summit in December fell short of agreeing a treaty.

"The group is dismayed that the ... text is unbalanced," developing nations in the Group of 77 and China said in a statement. Several of them said the 22-page text wrongly put emphasis on greenhouse gas curbs by the poor, not the rich.

Among rich nations, the United States said it would study the text but that some elements were "unacceptable." The European Union also expressed "concerns" about the text, which updates a previous 42-page draft rejected last week.

The new text outlines a goal of cutting world emissions of greenhouse gases by "at least 50-85 percent from 1990 levels by 2050" and for developed nations to reduce emissions by at least 80-95 percent from 1990 levels by mid-century.

It drops far more radical options, some championed by Bolivia, for a cut of at least 95 percent in world emissions by 2050 as part of a fight to slow droughts, floods, a spread of disease and rising sea levels.

Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe of Zimbabwe, who chairs the U.N. talks on action by all nations to slow global warming, said the text would be updated for a next meeting in Bonn in August.

SHORTCOMINGS

Yvo de Boer, the departing head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, said he felt the main reaction to the text was that, "yes, it has shortcomings...but that people are willing to take it as the basis for future work."

Many delegates say that a new legally binding deal is out of reach for 2010 and now more likely in 2011. Apart from deep splits over negotiating texts, U.S. legislation on cutting emissions is stalled in the Senate.

The May 31-June 11 session was the biggest since Copenhagen, where more than 120 nations agreed a non-binding deal to limit a rise in average world temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F) over pre-industrial times.

But it lacked details of how to reach this goal.

"This session has made important progress...Countries have been talking to each other rather than at each other," de Boer said of the Bonn talks.

De Boer said there was progress on climate funds, sharing green technology and issues such as slowing deforestation. He said an extra meeting of negotiators was likely in China before an annual meeting in Mexico from November 29-December 10.

The new draft text keeps some elements of the Copenhagen Accord, including a plan for aid to developing nations of $10 billion a year from 2010 to 2012, rising to more than $100 billion from 2020.

Australian delegate Robert Owen-Jones announced in Bonn that Canberra was contributing 559 million Australian dollars ($469 million) to the 2010-12 funds.

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