Climate talks seek complex, interlocked deal: U.N.

OSLO Wed Nov 10, 2010 12:51pm EST

Hotel guests swim in an infinity pool overlooking the haze-covered skyline in Singapore October 22, 2010. REUTERS/Vivek Prakash

Hotel guests swim in an infinity pool overlooking the haze-covered skyline in Singapore October 22, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Vivek Prakash

OSLO (Reuters) - U.N. climate talks starting in Mexico this month will seek a complex set of interlocking deals to slow global warming but will fall well short of a new treaty, the U.N.'s climate chief said on Wednesday.

Christiana Figueres said that governments had lowered their sights for the November 29-December 10 talks in Cancun, Mexico, after the Copenhagen summit in December 2009 failed to reach a sweeping new U.N. pact to slow climate change.

Even so, almost 200 nations faced a balancing act in Cancun, where governments were aiming for a less ambitious but still complex package deal.

"This is a complex process and it's going to be a slow process," she said of efforts to work out a new accord to slow increasing greenhouse gas emissions that threaten more floods, heatwaves, droughts and rising sea levels.

In Cancun, governments will seek to agree measures including a new "Green Fund" to handle long-term aid, actions to help developing nations adapt to climate change, a new mechanism to share clean technologies and ways to protect tropical forests.

"I don't hear any party saying that there would be a possibility to only to pick out some of the components and move those forward," she told a telephone news conference. "What I hear from the parties is the need for a balanced package."

"A Cancun deal isn't going to solve the whole problem," said Figueres, a Costa Rican who heads the Bonn-based U.N. Climate Change Secretariat.

COPENHAGEN

She said that she was confident a deal could be done in Cancun, given compromise by all sides. She did not spell out the risks of the talks collapsing if one element failed.

The Copenhagen summit fell short of a treaty partly because countries insisted that nothing could be agreed until everything was agreed -- including deep cuts in emissions by developed nations that have been toned down for 2010.

Figueres also said that U.S. President Barack Obama should stick to a plan to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 even though he has lost the chance of legislating cuts after Republican gains in mid-term elections.

"The world certainly expects the United States to live up to that pledge," she said. She said Obama had the option of regulating cuts via the Environmental Protection Agency.

She said that pledges by all nations were too weak to meet a goal set in a non-binding Copenhagen Accord to limit a rise in world temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F). Temperatures have already risen 0.7 C over pre-industrial times.

She said that developed nations in Cancun had to do more to firm up their pledges for greenhouse gas cuts until 2020 -- many such as the European Union or Australia have promised ranges for cuts that depend on the ambition of others.

Among disputes before Cancun are on how to set up a "Green Fund," meant to channel funds to developing nations to help them cope with climate change and meant to reach $100 billion a year from 2020.

Figueres said there were differences over whether it was best to take a "political decision" in Cancun to set up the fund and then design how it would work, or to design the fund first.

The United States insisted at preparatory talks in Mexico last week that the design had to come first -- a view at odds with many other nations, diplomats said.

"I am confident that the differences that are still on the table can be ironed out," Figueres said of the Green Fund.

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