U.N. climate talks resume, scant chance of 2010 deal

BONN, Germany (Reuters) - Climate negotiators meet in Bonn on Friday for the first time since the fractious Copenhagen summit but with scant hopes of patching together a new legally binding U.N. deal in 2010.

A United Nations flag is raised at the United Nations multi-agency compound near Herat, November 5, 2009. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl

Delegates from 170 nations gathered on Thursday for the April 9-11 meeting that will seek to rebuild trust after the December summit disappointed many by failing to agree a binding U.N. deal at the climax of two years of talks.

Bonn will decide a programme for meetings in 2010 and air ideas about the non-binding Copenhagen Accord, backed by more than 110 nations including major emitters China, the United States, Russia and India but opposed by some developing states.

The Accord seeks to limit world temperature rises to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F), but without saying how.

“We need to reassess the situation after Copenhagen,” said Bruno Sekoli of Lesotho, who speaks on behalf of the least developed nations who want far tougher cuts in greenhouse gas emissions to limit temperature rises to less than 1.5 C.

Many nations favor progress on practical steps in 2010, such as aid to developing nations to combat climate change that is meant to total about $10 billion a year from 2010-12 under the Copenhagen Accord, rising to $100 billion a year from 2020.

Delegates said perhaps two extra sessions of talks were likely to be added before the next annual ministerial talks in Cancun, Mexico, from November 29-December 10. That would mean a less hectic pace than last year’s run-up to Copenhagen.

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“There has been a constructive attitude” in informal preparatory talks in Tokyo and Mexico, said Harald Dovland, a Norwegian official who is the vice-chair of U.N. talks on a new deal to succeed the existing Kyoto Protocol.


But it is unclear what will happen to the Copenhagen Accord.

The United States is among the strongest backers of the Copenhagen Accord, but many developing nations do not want it to supplant the 1992 Climate Convention which they reckon stresses that the rich have to lead the way.

“I don’t believe that the Copenhagen Accord will become the new legal framework,” Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, told reporters in a briefing about Bonn last week.

He also doubted a legally binding deal would be reached in 2010, saying he hoped Cancun would agree the basic architecture “so that a year later, you can decide or not decide to turn that into a treaty.” The 2011 meeting is in South Africa.

Wendel Trio, of environmental group Greenpeace, said many nations had to toughen their targets for curbing greenhouse gas emissions if they wanted to stay below a 2 degrees Celsius rise.

“The pledges so far will probably take us to somewhere between 3.5 and 4 degrees Celsius,” he said. That would spur dangerous changes such as floods, heatwaves, droughts, more extinctions and rising sea levels.

In other signs of a revival of talks, the United States will host a meeting of major economies in Washington on April 18-19, top U.S. climate negotiator Todd Stern said on Wednesday.

He said he did not know if a legal U.N. treaty could be reached in 2010. One hurdle to a pact is that U.S. legislation to cap emissions is stalled in the U.S. Senate.

Editing by Matthew Jones