OSLO Small island states want U.N. climate talks in Mexico next week to set an end-2011 deadline for agreeing a new treaty as a step to slow the rise in sea levels, a spokeswoman said.
Many other nations, including the United States, fear that setting a time limit may be counter-productive after the U.N.'s Copenhagen climate summit failed to meet a 2009 deadline for a binding deal.
"In the case of climate, emergency requires speed," Dessima Williams of Grenada, who will chair the 42-nation Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) at the November 29 to December 10 talks in Cancun, Mexico, told Reuters.
"Anything that is not concluded in Cancun should not be put off into the indefinite future but could easily and should be referenced to South Africa," which will hold the next U.N. talks in late 2011, she said.
She said that AOSIS also reckoned that rich nations were slow in providing $30 billion in new aid for 2010-12, promised at last year's U.N. summit in Copenhagen.
"The fast track money is not adequately being drawn down," she said. But she said the aid was "not the main sticking point" before the meeting of environment ministers in Mexico.
AOSIS' central demand is for the world to toughen a goal, set in the non-binding Copenhagen Accord last year, of limiting global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F).
AOSIS wants a target of well below 1.5 Celsius above pre-industrial times, requiring far deeper curbs on emissions of greenhouse gases both by industrialized nations and major emerging economies such as China.
Among likely disputes in Cancun, she said AOSIS would resist suggestions that U.N. texts drop past language saying island states were especially vulnerable to climate change after floods in Pakistan and a heatwave in Russia highlighted wider risks.
"The islands are uniquely vulnerable because of our size, our remoteness, our weak capacity," she said.
She said that AOSIS needed more aid including insurance to cope with the impacts of global warming. "We think there is scope for much more protection including loss and damage insurance programs," Williams said.
The islands are also seeking funds to help adapt with measures including restoring coral reefs, improving food security, developing renewable energies and improving energy efficiency, she said.
Cancun will try to take steps toward combating global warming such as an agreement on a new "green fund" to channel aid and ways to share new clean energy technologies. Some analysts fear a full deal may be years away..
For Reuters latest environment blogs, click on: blogs.reuters.com/environment/
(Editing by Tim Pearce)