Tianjin climate talks pave way for Cancun

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The six-day United Nations climate change meeting has ended in Tianjin, with rich and poor countries still divided over responsibilities for emission targets, despite some partial progress.

Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said at a news conference on Saturday that the week has buyao "got us closer" to a structured set of decisions that can be agreed at the year-end Cancun summit in Mexico.

"Governments addressed what is doable in Cancun and what may have to be left until later."

At a separate interview with China Daily, Figueres said the meeting laid the groundwork for Cancun, but governments need to increase their efforts.

"It has been a meeting of progress. It helped identify the items that should be addressed and focused on in Cancun," she said.

"At the same time, it must be said that all efforts currently on the table are still insufficient and governments need to step up their efforts."

Stanley So, economic justice campaign manager for Oxfam, said the meeting showed that some substantive building blocks, such as the climate fund, can be achieved in Cancun.

"It's crucial that rich countries don't hold the climate fund hostage to progress in other areas of the negotiations. Treating the new fund as a bargaining chip will result in deadlock and more suffering for vulnerable people in poor countries," So said.

Figueres said governments must ensure "an open door" for a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, adding that she is confident governments are searching for ways to do so.

Many rich countries want to "jump ship" from the Kyoto Protocol to a new one, ignoring the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities", which was agreed by all parties and serves as the basis of the UN climate negotiations.

The United States has been targeting China and other major developing countries for not accepting the same monitoring and verification process as it, despite that the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change only regulates industrialized countries.

At Tianjin, some rich countries spoke against a second period of pollution reduction commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. The first period of the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

Chinese negotiators said such attempts to revamp the Kyoto Protocol have blocked progress.

"They want major developing countries to accept the same obligations on emission reductions, which is an obvious deviation from the Bali Road Map," said Su Wei, China's chief climate negotiator.

Victor Menotti, executive director of International Forum on Globalization, said China hosting the meeting during one of its two most important national holidays shows it really wants to show its support for the process of climate change.

Some experts also warned that the growing tension between the US and China, the top two producers of greenhouse gas emissions, may bring a gloomier outlook to the already tangled climate talks.

But the debate about tackling climate change should not be about just two countries, no matter how powerful they are, said So.

"The most savage impacts are felt by those least responsible for causing climate change," So said.

"If effective solutions to the climate crisis are to be found, their views must be heard in the negotiations."

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