Denmark asks world leaders to end climate deadlock

* Danish PM invites 191 leaders to Denmark

* Summit on Dec. 17-18 to break deadlock

COPENHAGEN, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Denmark upgraded U.N. climate talks in Copenhagen next month to a summit of world leaders to try to end deadlock between rich and poor on how to fight global warming.

In Addis Ababa, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who will help represent Africa in Copenhagen, criticised world efforts to slow climate change that many African nations say is already causing floods, heatwaves, desertification and disease.

Facing long-running splits about a new U.N. climate pact, Denmark said it would ask world leaders to come for the final two days of the Dec. 7-18 conference to push for a deal at the meeting, originally meant for environment ministers.

"The invitations are sent by letter from Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen to the heads of state and government of the other 191 U.N. member states," a Danish government statement said.

Marathon preparatory talks since 2007 have failed to narrow splits between developed and developing nations on issues such as the depth of greenhouse gases by developed nations by 2020 or find extra funds to help the poor.

The United Nations said last week that about 40 leaders had already indicated plans to attend, mostly from developing nations as well as from Germany and Britain, even before an official invitation.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said on Thursday he would come. And U.S. President Barack Obama told Reuters this week he would attend if it could give the impetus to clinch a deal.

But Ethiopia's Meles said the world did not seem serious.


"It is highly improbable ... the world is serious about climate change and (will decide) to take effective measures to tackle it," Meles told an economic conference. "But no one can say such an outcome is completely impossible."

Rasmussen's decision to invite leaders is a calculated risk, analysts say. Their presence can raise chances of a deal but the need for a summit is an admission that negotiations are in trouble after a final round of talks in Barcelona last week.

"There is a clear role for leadership at the highest level if we are to arrive at an agreement in Copenhagen," Barroso said. "I very much hope that all leaders are able to come."

Many developing nations want the rich to cut their greenhouse gas emissions, mainly from burning fossil fuels, by at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 as a condition for actions by the poor to start braking their rising pollution.

So far, promises by the rich fall far short, at cuts of about 11 to 15 percent. And developed nations have yet to meet promises of extra aid to developing countries.

In Brussels, a report showed that Austria has performed worse than any other major European economy in cutting emissions under the U.N.'s existing Kyoto Protocol.

But the EU's original 15 member states are on track to outperform their combined Kyoto target of cutting carbon dioxide by 8 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12, Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said.

With various measures, they could cut by 13 percent.

"Austria is the one country that according to projections will not achieve its individual target," Dimas told reporters. "The government needs to take the additional measures necessary to bring emissions down."

He called for other rich countries, such as Japan and the United States, to commit to deep emissions cuts and for emerging economies such as China to impose curbs on rising emissions.

The EU has promised to cut emissions by a unilateral 20 percent below 1990 levels and by up to 30 percent if others follow suit. A draft bill before the U.S. Senate would cut emissions to about 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. The head of the Commission's environment department, Karl Falkenberg, told Reuters Insider TV a lot of work remained before Copenhagen. "The text on which we are working is not in a state where I am secure to say we can approve the treaty at Copenhagen," he said. (With reporting by Barry Malone in Addis Ababa, Pete Harrison in Brussels, Nina Chestney and Darcy Lambton in London, writing by Alister Doyle)