UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the world yesterday to agree to work out a new climate treaty by 2009 but said it might be "too ambitious" to set goals for greenhouse gas cuts in Bali.
Washington is leading opposition at the meeting to any mention of scientific evidence of a need for cuts in greenhouse gases of 25 to 40 percent by 2020 below 1990 levels as part of the guidelines for negotiations.
"Realistically it may be too ambitious if delegations would be expected to be able to agree on targets of greenhouse gas emission reductions" in Bali, Ban said, echoing a view given by Washington.
"Sometime down the road we will have to agree on them."
Still, he also said that all countries should respect a finding by the UN climate panel that a range of 25-40 percent was needed to avert the worst impacts of climate change. The range was still in the draft text yesterday evening.
Ban said the overriding goal of the December 3-14 meeting was to agree to launch negotiations on a pact to succeed the current Kyoto Protocol.
He told more than 120 environment ministers that climate change was the "moral challenge of our generation" and said there was a "desperate urgency" to act to curb rising seas, floods, droughts, famines and extinctions of wildlife.
"The time to act is now," Ban told the ministers, split over the ground rules for agreeing to launch formal negotiations on a new long-term global treaty to limit greenhouse gas emissions, expanding the 37-nation Kyoto pact to all countries.
"You need to set an agenda - a roadmap to a more secure climate future, coupled with a tight timeline that produces a deal by 2009," he said. The United Nations wants a new pact adopted at a meeting in Copenhagen in late 2009.
The United States, supported by Japan, Canada and Australia, says that even a non-binding mention of a 25-to-40 percent range could prejudge the outcome of negotiations.
(China Daily December 13, 2007)