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Delegates close to outlining outcome for Cancun: U.N. climate chief


Climate negotiators are "very close" to making a decision on "what shape the Cancun outcome is to be," as they completed the third round of talks here, the U.N. climate chief says.

Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UNFCCC (the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), told Xinhua on Friday that the just-completed Bonn session saw some progress.

That came, Figueres said, as governments approached a set of decisions, that were "operational in nature and established the institutional arrangements for moving forward."

A revised climate text, drafted by the chair of the Ad-hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) was fully discussed line by line during the meeting.

The pages of the text climbed from the original 17 to 34, Figueres said, because the parties reinserted national positions during their last opportunity to do so before the Cancun climate summit starts in late November.

Between the Bonn gathering and Cancun, an extra session of U.N. climate talks will be held in Tianjin, China, on Oct. 4-9. The session will be the fourth round of climate talks this year.

"In Tianjin, countries have to go back to the hard work of discussing on how to compromise among those national positions," Figueres said. "They have to switch the focus to the content of those separated decisions and begin to move closer to common positions."

However, the past three rounds of climate talks in 2010, described as "slow-paced" by delegates, have indicated the chances of striking a widely accepted treaty remain slim when negotiators could not overcome rifts between developed and developing countries.

As industrialized countries were reluctant to advance their emissions cut ambitions, it has aroused concerns on two levels, said Figueres, a former negotiator from Costa Rica who took office July 8 to succeed Dutch diplomat Yvo de Boer.

"There is a concern from a survival prospective for smaller and low-line countries which depend on very prompt cuts," she said. "And it is also a political concern for countries that are also engaged in limiting emissions growth, as they need to see clear cuts of industrialized countries."

Developed countries pledged to cut carbon emissions by 12 percent to 19 percent collectively from 1990 levels, substantially lower than the cut recommended by the IPCC (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), which is minus 25 percent to 40 percent.

On climate funds, another key issue which also has no clear picture, Figueres urged developed countries to work on the fast-track financing "with transparency around both source and allocation."

Developed countries agreed in Copenhagen last December that they would offer 10 billion U.S. dollars per year to help poor countries address climate change in the next three years, and would boost the aid to 100 billion dollars annually by 2020.

However, as eight months has passed, the very mechanism of financing still seems vague and uncertain.

Another major uncertainty comes from Washington. That's because the U.S. Senate decided in July to abandon the climate and energy bill this year, meaning America would go to Cancun without any domestic climate legislation, just as it did in Copenhagen last year.

U.S. climate delegates stressed in Bonn that the Obama administration would keep the promise of reducing its carbon emissions 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, and would not give up passing a sweeping climate bill.

"How the United States honors those promises is completely their domestic responsibility, and the country needs to decide whether they are going to fulfill that pledge through legislation, which doesn't seem entirely likely right now, or through regulation, which they still have options," Figueres said.

"What is clear in the international level is that the country needs to participate in negotiations and implementations of all activities to address climate change in a meaningful way," she added.

As for the Cancun conference, the top U.N. climate official seemed cautiously optimistic.

"I believe countries would then have pretty good ideas as to what the final package is going to be like, at least the form of it," she said.


The news content in this section is responsibility of the information agencies and does not necessarily reflect the position of the Government of Mexico on this or other related topics.

El contenido de las noticias que se presentan en esta sección es responsabilidad directa de las agencias emisoras de noticias y no necesariamente reflejan la posición del Gobierno de México en este u otros temas relacionados.


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