U.N. climate talks "risk losing relevance": EU

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - International climate talks risk “losing momentum and relevance” if they fail to achieve concrete progress in the next two weeks, the Europe Union’s climate chief warned on Monday.

As the two-week talks kicked off in Cancun, Mexico, EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard also took a swipe at countries such as the United States that she said had failed to make progress this year in tackling climate change.

“The EU is ready to agree on an ambitious global climate framework in Cancun, but regrettably some other major economies are not,” she said. “No new legislation unfortunately came out of the American Senate.”

“Cancun can nevertheless take the world a significant step forward by agreeing on a balanced set of decisions covering many key issues,” she added. “It is crucial that Cancun delivers this progress, otherwise the U.N. climate change process risks losing momentum and relevance.”

Hedegaard stopped short of saying the EU would walk away from the talks in favor of other political forums such as the G20, instead telling reporters that she feared “other parties would start to lose patience”.

And she stressed that no other forum appeared more promising than the United Nations meetings of almost 200 nations.

Nevertheless, the EU has scaled down its ambitions for Cancun and is now looking for small, concrete measures to protect rainforests, exchange green technology and monitor financial donations to poor countries in return for emissions cuts.

Reporting by Pete Harrison, editing by Rex Merrifield