New U.N. climate text omits deepest 2050 carbon cuts

BONN, Germany Thu Jun 10, 2010 7:34pm EDT

BONN, Germany (Reuters) - Negotiators from 185 nations end two weeks of talks on a new climate treaty on Friday with a new blueprint for a pact that omits the most draconian options for greenhouse gas cuts by 2050.

The streamlined 22-page draft also cuts all references in a previous text to "Copenhagen," the host city for a U.N. summit in December that fell short of a binding deal to slow a rise in temperatures blamed for heatwaves, floods and rising sea levels.

The May 31-June 11 talks are the biggest since the summit, trying to get negotiations back on track even though many delegates say that a legally binding deal is out of reach for 2010 and is more likely in 2011.

The new text, issued shortly before midnight (2200 GMT) on Thursday, is meant as a blueprint to guide negotiators to overcome rifts between rich and poor nations when they reconvene at a next session in early August in Bonn.

It 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 cut emissions by at least 80-95 percent from 1990 levels by mid-century.

The text drops far more radical options, championed by Bolivia in the previous draft, for a cut of at least 95 percent in world emissions by 2050 and for rich nations to cut their emissions by "more than 100 percent by 2040."

"It's too early to say how this will be received," one delegate said of the text, prepared by Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe of Zimbabwe who chairs the U.N. talks on global action. "People will need to study it more."

DELAYS, OBJECTIONS

The United Nations had hoped that the text would be ready by last weekend to allow debate at the current Bonn meeting after nations including the United States and some Latin American states rejected an earlier 42-page draft as unbalanced.

Bolivia was among a handful of nations to oppose the Copenhagen Accord in Denmark.

Agreed by more than 120 nations, the accord seeks to limit a rise in average world temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F) over pre-industrial times. But it lacks details of needed greenhouse gas cuts to achieve the goal.

While Bolivia's radical proposals are dropped, so are more than a dozen references to "Copenhagen" in the previous text, for instance in a "Copenhagen Green Climate Fund" or the "Copenhagen Adaptation Framework."

The text, however, does keep elements of the Copenhagen Accord, including a plan for fast-start aid for developing nations of $10 billion a year from 2010-12, rising to more than $100 billion from 2020.

Delegates say the Bonn talks have made progress on some issues -- such as protecting carbon-storing wetlands or plans to share green technologies -- but not on core disputes between rich and poor about greenhouse gas curbs.

"The discussions have been good and constructive," said Kim Carstensen, of the WWF International environmental group. "We are not resolving the big crunch issues yet."

Many delegates want the talks to end in time to watch the opening World Cup soccer game between hosts South Africa and Mexico. By coincidence, the main annual U.N. climate talks will be held in Mexico in late 2010 and in South Africa in 2011.

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