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Rich must make clearer climate cuts: U.N.

United Kingdom
Alister Doyle and Gerard Wynn

Oslo/ London - Rich nations must spell out their plans for cutting greenhouse gases more clearly to enable U.N. talks in Mexico to agree the cornerstone of a pact to slow global warming, the U.N.'s climate chief said.

Christiana Figueres said the annual November 29-December 10 meeting in Mexico would fall short of a U.N. treaty to combat climate change, saying countries learnt there was no "magic bullet" for a quick new U.N. accord at a Copenhagen summit last year.

She urged rich nations to clarify promises to cut greenhouse gases, many of which have not been written into domestic laws, and also admit they were too weak to avert damaging climate change.

"It is absolutely critical that these mitigation pledges that are on the table be formalized and recognized as a first and necessary but insufficient step," she told the Reuters Global Climate and Alternative Energy Summit on Wednesday.

"Governments do need to double their efforts between now and Cancun," she said of the talks among environment ministers to be held in the Mexican Caribbean resort.

She said promises so far for cuts in emissions fall short of those needed to limit a rise in temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F) above pre-industrial times, a ceiling set at the U.N. summit in Copenhagen last December.

Figueres noted that many developing states wanted temperature rises limited to below 1.5 degrees Celsius to avoid more floods, droughts, mudslides and rising sea levels.

Many promised curbs on greenhouse gases, mainly by cutting emissions from fossil fuels, are hedged. The European Union plans a cut of 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 with a cut of 30 percent if others act. Japan plans a cut of 25 percent, but only if there is an ambitious U.N. deal.

The U.N. talks are meant to agree a successor climate deal to the Kyoto Protocol whose first round ends in 2012.


Some rich nations, notably Japan and Canada, say they can only agree new binding emissions cuts when the United States -- which never ratified the Kyoto Protocol -- does the same.

Figueres, who heads the Bonn-based U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, said Washington could bring plans in Cancun even though the Senate has failed to enact President Barack Obama's call for a law for cuts of 4 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.

She said Cancun could agree elements of a deal, such as a fund to help poor nations curb emissions and adapt to global warming, a system to protect tropical forests or ways to share green technology.

A set of decisions in Cancun would be "the cornerstone on which (nations) may choose to build" in coming years. She said it was unclear they would try to set a deadline for a treaty.

She said among good news was that studies showed that rich nations had collectively promised about $28 billion in fast-start aid for developing nations from 2010-12.

But she said some of it fell short of being "new and additional" under a pledge in Copenhagen to provide funds approaching $30 billion for the three years, rising to $100 billion a year from 2020.

She also said that only the United Nations, not alternative groups or bilateral deals, could drive a global fight against climate change since it comprised all nations. "The multilateral process is...cumbersome and necessarily a slow process...but absolutely indispensable."

(Additional reporting by David Fogarty in Singapore; editing by Ralph Boulton)

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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