US says little progress in climate change talksChina
Tianjin, China – The United States said on Wednesday that talks in China aimed at laying the foundations for a global climate change treaty had so far failed to make significant progress.
Chief US negotiator Jonathan Pershing said time was fast running out to reach a set of agreements, which would then be submitted for approval at a major United Nations climate summit in Cancun, Mexico, next month.
"There is less agreement than one might have hoped at this stage," Pershing told a small group of reporters nearly halfway through the six days of talks in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin.
"It's going to require a lot of work to get to some significant outcome by the end of this week, which would lead us into a significant outcome in Cancun."
Delegates from more than 170 countries are meeting in Tianjin in an effort to end the gridlock that has plagued UN climate negotiations since the failure by world leaders to achieve a binding agreement in Copenhagen last year.
The eventual goal of the UN process is to secure a post-2012 treaty aimed at limiting global warming and helping countries cope with the potentially devastating environmental impacts of climate change.
This treaty could be clinched at a planned UN summit in South Africa late next year.
Delegates arrived in Tianjin cautioning observers to lower expectations for the week, warning they were looking to find agreements on specific issues as a way of rebuilding trust and momentum going into Cancun.
Rich nations such as the United States have long been at loggerheads with China and other developing countries over actions each side should take to limit the greenhouse gases that scientists blame for global warming.
Pershing warned the UN climate change process could itself be at risk unless the bickering countries started to make progress soon.
"The consequences of not having an agreement coming out of Cancun are things we have to worry about, something to be considered seriously," he said.
"Because the process is going to be very hard-pressed to continue to have these enormous sessions... unless we can use the process to good effect."
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