BRUSSELS Russia recognizes that concrete steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions need to be agreed at climate talks in South Africa next month before a globally binding climate deal can emerge by 2015, EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard said on Thursday.
Negotiators from around the world are due to meet in Durban at the end of this month to try to work on a new deal to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.
Expectations are low that a binding deal will emerge, as rifts between countries have stifled progress.
A group of small island states accused countries such as Russia and Japan on Thursday of trying to delay a new international agreement until 2018 or 2020.
"Russia shares our view that we should go for a roadmap and have timetables in it," Hedegaard told reporters.
"There might be some differences over timing (for a global deal) but the mindset is changing that we have to move into something new."
The "roadmap" would include a set of standardized actions toward a global deal, perhaps similar to a proposal by Australia and Norway last month, Hedegaard said.
Australia and Norway urged major economies to strengthen steps to curb emissions and proposed a system to compare and verify what others were doing.
Once this plan of action has been agreed, detailed work will take place to try to get a binding deal in place after 2014, Hedegaard said.
"We have three years from now to put the flesh and blood on this. We know what should be done so 2015 -- after an IPCC (U.N.-backed scientific) review -- will be time enough," she said.
Japan, Russia and Canada have been opposed to extending the Kyoto Protocol into a second phase after 2012.
However, the EU has said it would back a second Kyoto commitment period if other big emitters, like the United States and China, agree to more ambitious emissions cut targets.
"Without a roadmap, there will be no second commitment period," Hedegaard said.
"One of the benchmarks is whether we can get this roadmap. I get the feeling more and more countries understand the EU's position (...) but the UN rules are clear. If we have a roadmap everyone or almost everyone has to be part of that," she said.
(Reporting by Nina Chestney and Ben Garside; Editing by Anthony Barker)