Informal world climate talks in Bonn in August

WASHINGTON Tue Jul 21, 2009 3:20pm EDT

Steam and other emissions are seen coming from funnels at an oil refinery in Melbourne June 24, 2009. REUTERS/Mick Tsikas

Steam and other emissions are seen coming from funnels at an oil refinery in Melbourne June 24, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Mick Tsikas

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - World climate negotiators will gather in Bonn next month to edit an "indigestible" set of proposals into a manageable document for international consideration, the head of a key U.N. panel said on Tuesday.

The August meeting is the first step in a timeline aimed at reaching a new worldwide agreement to combat climate change in Copenhagen in December, said Michael Zammit Cutajar, chairman of a working group of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate change.

Not previously planned or publicized, the Bonn meeting precedes already scheduled gatherings in Bangkok and Barcelona, in addition to forums in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and New York City to discussing the problem of climate change.

"The juicy details will really start to come forward in the last quarter of this year," Zammit Cutajar told reporters.

The meetings in Bonn, set for August 10-14, are supposed to be informal, thematic talks aimed at guiding negotiators through the ideas contained in an unwieldy 200-page paper, he said.

"The document itself is horribly complicated ... It's indigestible, it's not meant to be read from top to bottom. And what we're doing now ... is (working on) a guide to the use of this document ... identifying issues for discussions, some way of getting discussion going in a thematic way," he said.

LONG-TERM U.S. VISION

Zammit Cutajar and his committee crafted a 50-page paper that was considered at a climate meeting in June in Bonn. That document ballooned to 200 pages with contributions from various delegations.

This draft text is aimed at agreeing on a treaty in December that would succeed the carbon-capping Kyoto Protocol, which runs out in 2012. The United States, alone among major industrialized nations, never ratified the Kyoto pact.

Those earlier talks ended with some progress toward a new world treaty to curb climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions, but with proposed cuts by industrialized nations that disappointed developing countries.

These global negotiations are taking place as the United States considers a carbon-capping law that was narrowly approved by the House (of Representatives) and is expected to be debated in the Senate starting in September.

This legislation aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions from 2005 levels by 17 percent by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050.

U.S. participation is considered essential to any global climate agreement, and Zammit Cutajar was encouraged by the U.S. long-term ambition to reduce carbon emissions.

The United States has "already started to bring ... the sense that it's serious, that it's going places and that it has a vision up to 2050, that's very important," Zammit Cutajar said. "It would be great if there were a Senate outcome that was strong (before Copenhagen) ... a signal from both chambers that they're on the same track."

(Editing by Alan Elsner)

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