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August 15, 2009

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UN warns over climate talks

UN talks on a new climate treaty due to be agreed in December risk failure unless negotiations accelerate, a senior United Nations official said yesterday after a sluggish week-long session involving 180 countries.

Many nations also bemoaned scant progress at the August 10-14 talks that failed to break deadlocks on issues such as sharing out curbs on greenhouse gases among rich and poor, and raising funds to help developing nations cope with global warming.

"If we continue at this rate we're not going to make it," Yvo de Boer, head of the UN Climate Change Secretariat, told a news conference after the meeting in Bonn, Germany.

He said "selective progress" has been made on trimming a huge 200-page draft treaty text in Bonn, one of a series of talks meant to end with a UN deal in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December. He warned participants that just 15 days of negotiations remain before Copenhagen -- at meetings in Bangkok in September-October and Barcelona in November.

"It is clear that there is quite a significant uphill battle if we are going to get there," said Jonathan Pershing, head of the US delegation. But he said there were some signs of movement.

Developing nations accuse the rich of failing to take the lead on deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and of trying to get the poor to shoulder more of the burden of emission curbs without providing aid and technology.

Eighty small island states and least developed nations called for deeper cuts, of at least 45 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, to keep global temperature rises below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

"Copenhagen is the last chance to avoid a global human tragedy," said Dessima Williams of Grenada, who chairs the alliance of small island states. Many are at risk from stronger cyclones and rising seas.

Major emitters agreed at a summit in Italy last month to try to limit global warming to a maximum of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Delegates said a meeting of world leaders at the UN and a meeting of leaders of the Group of 20 in Pittsburgh, both in September, could help.


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