* Leaders agree to delay legal side of Copenhagen talks
* Denmark still ambitious on core climate action
* France says U.S. to blame for slow progress
SINGAPORE, Nov 15 (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama
and other world leaders on Sunday supported delaying a legally
binding climate pact until 2010 or even later, but European
negotiators said the move did not imply weaker action.
Some argued that legal technicalities might otherwise
distract the talks in Copenhagen and it was better to focus on
the core issue of cutting climate-warming emissions.
"Given the time factor and the situation of individual
countries we must, in the coming weeks, focus on what is
possible and not let ourselves be distracted by what is not
possible," Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen told the
"The Copenhagen Agreement should finally mandate continued
legal negotiations and set a deadline for their conclusion,"
said the Copenhagen talks host, who flew into Singapore to lay
out his proposal over breakfast at an Asia-Pacific summit.
Rasmussen said the Dec. 7-18 talks should still agree key
elements such as cuts in greenhouse gases for industrialised
nations and funds to help developing nations. Copenhagen would
also set a deadline for writing them into a legal text.
"We are not aiming to let anyone off the hook," Rasmussen
said after the meeting, which was attended by leaders of the
United States, China, Japan, Russia, Mexico, Australia and
WAITING FOR UNITED STATES
French Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo said it was
clear the main obstacle was the United States' slow progress in
defining its own potential emissions cuts.
"The problem is the United States, there's no doubt about
that," Borloo, who has coordinated France's Copenhagen
negotiating effort, told Reuters in an interview.
"It's the world's number one power, the biggest emitter (of
greenhouse gases), the biggest per capita emitter and it's
saying 'I'd like to but I can't'. That's the issue," he said.
Danish and Swedish officials said they wanted all developed
countries including the United States to promise numbers for
cuts in emissions in Copenhagen. The U.S. Senate has not yet
agreed carbon-capping legislation.
"There was an assessment by the leaders that it was
unrealistic to expect a full, internationally legally binding
agreement to be negotiated between now and when Copenhagen
starts in 22 days," said U.S. negotiator Michael Froman.
"We believe it is better to have something good than to have
nothing at all," said Chilean Foreign Minister Mariano
Fernandez. The next major U.N. climate meeting is in Bonn in
"Copenhagen can and must deliver clarity on emission
reductions and the finance to kickstart action. I have seen
nothing to change my view on that," said Yvo de Boer, the U.N.'s
top climate change official. Ministers from 40 nations will meet
in Copenhagen on Monday and Tuesday for preparatory talks.
Copenhagen was seen as the last chance for countries to
agree on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, aiming to fight a
rise in temperatures that many scientists predict will bring
rising sea levels and more floods and droughts.
The aim of the summit is to set ambitious targets for
cutting greenhouse gases in industrialised nations, but also to
raise funds to help poor countries slow their own emissions
growth and tackle the worst impacts on crops and water supplies.
But negotiations have been bogged down, with developing
nations accusing the rich world of failing to set themselves
deep enough 2020 goals for curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
It was not clear if China, now the world's biggest carbon
emitter, had backed the two-stage proposal in Singapore.
Chinese President Hu Jintao instead focused his remarks at
the breakfast meeting on the need to establish a funding
mechanism for rich nations to provide financial support to
developing countries to fight climate change.
Britain's Energy and Climate Secretary Ed Miliband told the
BBC the issue was tough but he was "quite optimistic".
"It is about saving the world ... If we can get a very clear
set of commitments from the world's leaders in Copenhagen on how
they're going to cut their emissions -- not just Europe, not
just the United States but India and China and other countries
-- then that will be a very major step forward," he said.
Despite the talk in Singapore of urgent action on climate
change, a statement issued after the 21-member Asia-Pacific
Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit dropped an earlier draft's
reference to halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Environmental lobby group WWF was disappointed.
"At APEC, there was far too much talk about delay,"
spokesperson Diane McFadzien said in a statement.
"In Copenhagen, governments need to create a legally binding
framework with an amended Kyoto Protocol and a new Copenhagen
Protocol. Legally binding is the only thing that will do if we
want to see real action to save the planet."
(for more climate coverage click on [ID:nLL527527])
(Additional reporting by David Fogarty, Oleg Shchedrov, Yoo
Choonsik and Lucy Hornby, Stefano Ambrogi in London, Emmanuel
Jarry and James Mckenzie in Paris, Alister Doyle in Oslo and
Pete Harrison in Brussels; Writing by John Chalmers; Editing by