U.N. climate deal said "daunting" as Bonn talks end

BONN Fri Jun 13, 2008 9:38pm EDT

Corn crop sit in standing floodwaters near Loveland, Iowa, June 12, 2008. REUTERS/Dave Kaup

Corn crop sit in standing floodwaters near Loveland, Iowa, June 12, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Dave Kaup

BONN (Reuters) - The world faces a daunting task to agree a new deal by the end of 2009 to slow climate change, the United Nations said on Friday as 170-country talks ended with recriminations about scant progress.

Developing nations at the June 2-13 meeting accused the rich of dragging their feet in setting new cuts of greenhouse gases and failing to offer enough ideas for sharing new technology or for aiding the poor to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

"The road ahead of us is daunting," Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, said of a U.N. timetable meant to end with a climate deal in Copenhagen in December 2009 to widen and toughen the existing Kyoto Protocol.

Still, he said there was progress in Bonn partly because nations had a better understanding of what should go into the hugely complex treaty meant to slow desertification, heatwaves, floods, rising seas and more powerful storms.

"It is crucial that the next stage of meetings produce concrete negotiating texts," he said. Bonn was the second session in a two-year push for a deal after starting in Bangkok in March. The next will be in Accra, Ghana, in August.

Others were more sceptical.

"It could well be said that we have been beating around the bush," said India's Chandrashekhar Dasgupta. He said there was a "deafening silence" from almost all rich nations on ways to make new cuts in their greenhouse gas emissions.

"The pace was slow and difficult," said Harald Dovland, a Norwegian official chairing a group looking at future cuts by the 37 rich nations who have agreed to cut emissions by 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12 under the Protocol.

NEW SPIRIT

He said a "new spirit" of cooperation was needed.

Many countries are looking to the U.S. presidential election for impetus. President George W. Bush rejected Kyoto, calling it too costly, but both Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain have promised to do more to cap emissions.

De Boer said there were no signs that rich nations were getting alarmed by the possible costs.

"Short-term financial crises, food prices are not affecting this process in a negative way," he said. High oil prices added to the arguments for conserving energy and shifting to renewable power such as wind or solar power.

Environmentalists accused the United States, Canada and Australia of doing most to slow the talks. They gave praise to initiatives by countries including China, Brazil, Switzerland and Norway.

"The agenda has never been bigger, progress has never been slower," said Bill Hare of Greenpeace. He said there was a risk of failure unless major developed nations stopped what he called "unconstructive tactics, nit-picking and roadblocks."

De Boer said it was too early for gloom. "It's a little early days when we are in the first mile of the marathon to say we're not going to reach the finishing line," he said.

Among delays, the talks put off consideration of allowing capture and burial of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, to qualify for credits under a mechanism promoting cuts in greenhouse gases in poor nations.

"The unfortunate reality of the situation is that we are not making progress," said Aysar Tayeb of Saudi Arabia of the proposal to expand the Clean Development Mechanism.

-- For Reuters latest environment blogs click on:

blogs.reuters.com/environment/

(Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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