LONDON (Reuters) - The United Nations published a report on Thursday to help lawmakers meeting at an upcoming U.N. climate summit to move closer to sealing a new agreement to confront potentially devastating global warming.
The draft report assembled proposals presented by countries and observer organizations since last year’s U.N. talks in Bali, Indonesia, on what a new treaty should feature. The next round of talks will be held in Poznan, Poland from December 1-12.
In the U.N. report, the European Union and other nations proposed limiting global average temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius through measures such as emissions trading and technology transfer.
U.N. scientists have warned global warming caused by high atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) will lead to rising seas, big storms, mass heatwaves and droughts.
The current climate pact, the Kyoto Protocol, expires in 2012 and countries are scrambling to negotiate a follow-up deal that many hope will include the United States and commit developing nations like China and India to cut greenhouse gases.
Luiz Figueiredo Machado, the report’s lead author and chair of the U.N’s Ad hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action, urged governments to boost efforts by submitting specific proposals.
The report said China and much of Latin America hold that developed countries should take the lead in combating climate change, a view agreed by the 27-nation EU.
The EU and New Zealand proposed that global emissions should peak within the next 10-15 years, while the archipelago nation of the Maldives is seeking to cease growing CO2 levels by 2015.
In the report, Bangladesh and a coalition of the least developed countries which potentially could be amongst the hardest hit by climate change, said “deep cuts” in emissions were required in a new treaty, using wording agreed in Bali.
Hard, quantitative reduction targets have since been discussed at various global summits, but nothing concrete has been agreed.
Negotiators in Bali agreed to start two years of talks to be concluded with the signing of a new treaty at the U.N.’s 2009 climate talks in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Brazil, New Zealand and the EU said binding emissions targets for rich nations need to be 25-40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, a view agreed by organizations including the Climate Action Network and the International Trade Union Confederation.
However, the U.S. said the country groupings under Kyoto needed to be redrawn, based on “recent advances in scientific knowledge and changing social and economic situation in the world.”
Any long-term global goal should be “aspirational” instead of binding, it said.
Russia agreed, adding a pact should not be punitive or enforceable but feature adjustable commitments and offer “effective incentives” to participants that meet them.
Observers said country positions may change after comments made this week by U.S. President-elect Barack Obama, who said his country would “engage vigorously” in climate change talks when he is in office next year.
Obama wants to reduce U.S. carbon emissions to their 1990 levels by 2020 and cut them by an additional 80 percent by 2050.
President George W. Bush pulled the U.S. out of Kyoto in 2001, saying it unfairly burdened rich nations while exempting poor ones.
To download the U.N. report, go to unfccc.int
Reporting by Michael Szabo; Editing by Sophie Hares