MEXICO CITY Global climate change talks in Copenhagen next month should yield a concrete base that will allow for a definitive treaty to be agreed within a year, Mexico's top climate change diplomat said on Wednesday.
Acknowledging that world leaders will not be able to draw up a new global treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol at a December 7-18 summit in the Danish capital, Luis Alfonso de Alba said he was optimistic the meeting would yield a major results including an accord to cap rising temperatures and set billions of dollars to help poor countries.
"What is important is that in Copenhagen we say what it is we want, and afterward the 'how.' If we decide what the goal is, the terms of the negotiations that follow will be easier," de Alba said in an interview.
Denmark has proposed that the world delay a final legal agreement until 2010 rather than try to reach a comprehensive political deal at the December meeting, which dozens of world leaders are expected to attend.
At a minimum, the Copenhagen agreement must include a commitment to not allow the planet's temperatures to rise more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) and a binding commitment to cut emissions of greenhouse gases by at least half by 2050, with at least 80 percent of the reduction coming from developed nation, de Alba said.
The United Nations Climate Panel said in a 2007 report that developed nations should cut emissions by 25 to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 to avoid the worst environmental effects of climate change.
If these targets are agreed, negotiators should be able to arrive at a final binding treaty by the end of 2010 at a meeting that Mexico is likely to host, he added.
"What is most probable is that this work finishes in Mexico. What is clear is that it must not end after Mexico. It ends either before or at the Mexico meeting."
$10 BILLION A YEAR
The Copenhagen process has been bedeviled by sharp differences between rich countries and developing nations over how to achieve the goals. Fast-growing poor countries like China have pushed for deep cuts in emissions by the industrialized world.
However, China's top climate diplomat hinted at flexibility on Wednesday, saying the substance of any agreement at Copenhagen mattered more than legal formalities.
De Alba suggested one solution may be to allow wealthier nations to agree among themselves how to achieve a target set for them as a group.
This compromise would allow the United States, which has balked at the rapid and deep cuts proposed by the European Union, to reduce its emissions more gradually while still ensuring wealthy nations as a whole make big reductions in emissions.
Any agreement at Copenhagen should also include an early commitment by rich countries to fund carbon emissions reduction efforts by poorer countries starting in 2010, de Alba said.
Funding for the proposal should be at least the $10 billion a year proposed by the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat.
Transfers to the developing world would likely reach $100 billion through 2020 once a final treaty is agreed that will include mechanisms to accurately measure the benefits of carbon reduction schemes in poorer countries, de Alba said.