28 January 2009

U.N. says global climate deal needs political leadership

By Megan Rowling, Reuters, Jan 26, 2009 7:53pm GMT

LONDON  - World leaders risk failure at talks on a new U.N. climate treaty unless they compromise on key issues including new financing to help poor nations adapt to changing weather patterns, a top U.N. official said on Monday.

About 190 countries are trying to craft a broader climate treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol that only binds wealthy nations to emissions targets between 2008 and 2012.

The new deal is due to be wrapped up in Copenhagen by December, but it will be difficult to make progress without more political commitment, said Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

"I'm amazed on a weekly basis to hear people I thought were leaders calling for leadership and then turning around to express dissatisfaction with what, at the end of the day, is their negotiating process," he told reporters.

De Boer said a deal would hinge on a clear target for richer countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, commitments from developing countries to reduce their emissions growth, extra cash for poorer nations and a new mechanism that would put them in control of the funds.

"I firmly believe that we are not going to get to a result in Copenhagen unless the necessary leadership is shown on those four issues," De Boer said.

Although industrialised countries should agree a goal to cut their emissions by 2020, it would be unreasonable to expect developing nations to sign up to binding targets, he said.

Poorer nations, which are expected to be worst hit by global warming, say they need to focus on growing their economies and fighting poverty first.

De Boer said developing countries should be given a stronger say in how climate change funds were spent, which could only happen if a new global governance structure were put in place.

Four negotiating sessions are scheduled this year with the first due to open in Bonn at the end of March.

De Boer said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon hoped to convene a "small but representative" group of governments and heads of state in the spring to identify key political issues.

"What I would like to see come out of a process like that is first of all a shared vision that politically has to be delivered and agreed in Copenhagen," he said.

He added that promises by the United States, Europe and China to include green energy and job creation measures in stimulus packages to address the credit crunch were a positive sign of climate change and economic agendas coming together.

(Additional reporting by Nina Chestney; Editing by Katie Nguyen)
© Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved.

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