Arguments over agenda stall U.N. climate talks
BANGKOK (Reuters) - U.N. climate talks remained deadlocked on Wednesday over a debate on the agenda for negotiations, with developing countries pushing hard for a greater focus on the fate of the Kyoto Protocol.
The April 3-8 talks in the Thai capital are part of a long and often troubled negotiation trying to strengthen the global fight against climate change by deepening greenhouse gas curbs by the world's major economies.
Delegates have expressed hopes the Bangkok meeting will build on a series of agreements reached in Cancun last December.
The talks adjourned on Wednesday after day-long meetings and an intense 3-hour closed door plenary failed to win agreement on an agenda meant to shape negotiations for the rest of the year. Negotiations resume on Thursday.
"It's unfortunate we aren't able to start so early. But this is our first meeting since Cancun. We will have an agenda and we will have a work plan tomorrow," Dessima Williams of Grenada, who represents a 43-member alliance of small island states, told Reuters.
"I'm confident we will be able to have a plan for the year," added veteran negotiator Artur Runge-Metzger, the European Union's director of international climate strategy.
Russia disagreed, doubting there will be a breakthrough.
December's meeting in the Mexican resort of Cancun led to a series of agreements widely seen as saving the process from collapse.
But developing country delegates say the current gathering must focus on the issues that Cancun put to one side, including the fate of Kyoto and the need for rich nations to step up carbon cuts.
The agenda should also ensure there's a clear path to reach agreement on key issues by the next major meeting in the South African city of Durban at year's end, they said.
Kyoto is the only pact with legally binding targets for about 40 rich nations up to 2012. No successor agreement is in sight and many developing nations say the talks need to step up a gear to decide on a pact to begin in 2013 to avoid a gap.
This leads to the risk that the talks could slip back into a mindset of trying to solve all issues at the same time, a step the United Nations last year said could cripple the negotiations. The Cancun agreements enshrined a step-by-step process to win agreement on different issues.
Poorer nations want Kyoto extended into a second commitment period from 2013.
"Without some political solution to that issue, it may be impossible to move forward with implementing the Cancun Agreements," said Elliott Diringer of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.
Many rich nations say they want a broader climate agreement that binds all big emitters to steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Japan, Canada and Russia are firmly opposed to the pact entering a second commitment period while developing nations say Kyoto must be preserved.
The 131-member G77 group of developing nations plus China said while Cancun was a good basis for talks, the tougher issues must be given much more focus and challenged the agenda presented by the chair of the meeting.
Russia said it was disappointed by the deadlock on the agenda, with its head of delegation saying it was keen to see progress on the Cancun Agreements.
"We are now trapped and locked into purely procedural discussions about the agenda that could have been avoided," Oleg Shamanov told Reuters in an interview.
"That highly disappoints me that we are pulling back from the dynamics that we achieved in Cancun."
(Additional reporting by Ben Garside; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)
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