Negotiators at climate talks in Bali tried to break a deadlock
on Friday over emissions goals after the European Union accused the
United States of blocking progress at the 190-nation meeting.
The two-week talks, which are supposed to end on Friday, aim to
launch two years of negotiations on an international pact to fight
global warming. But the United States, Japan and Canada are opposed
to any reference to numerical goals for emissions in the final
Ministerial talks ran deep into the night to break the impasse
at the UN-led talks involving 10,000 delegates.
"The points of difference of position have become much clearer.
We will try to consolidate all the different views in the (next)
meeting," said an Indonesian delegate who did not want to be
"The numerical target has become the major subject of contention
with the same countries holding the same positions," the delegate
The EU wants Bali's final text to agree a non-binding goal of
cuts in emissions, mainly from burning fossil fuels, of 25 to 40
percent below 1990 levels by 2020 for industrial economies. The
United States says any figures would prejudge the outcome.
The United Nations wants the Bali talks to launch formal
negotiations on a deal to succeed the Kyoto Protocol by 2009 as the
world faces rising seas, more extreme droughts and floods and
spread of disease.
Kyoto caps greenhouse gas emissions of all industrial nations
except the United States until 2012.
Developing nations are exempt from Kyoto's 2008-2012 first phase
and say that before they sign up to any broader agreement, rich
countries, particularly the United States as the world's top
greenhouse gas emitter, should take the lead in pledging cuts.
Washington submitted a new text to the talks around midnight on
Thursday that stressed voluntary goals for greenhouse gases rather
than binding Kyoto-style caps for developed countries.
On other issues, the Bali talks made progress.
Negotiators agreed a deal in principle to share technology --
such as wind turbines or solar panels -- to help poor nations. This
week, the talks have also agreed the workings of a fund to help
poor nations adapt to climate change and are hoping to take steps
to slow deforestation.
The EU threatened on Thursday to pull out of a US meeting of
major greenhouse gas emitters next month.
"If we would have a failure in Bali it would be meaningless to
have a major economies' meeting" in the United States, Humberto
Rosa, Portugal's Secretary of State for Environment, said in Bali.
Portugal holds the rotating EU presidency.
Washington, long at odds with many of its Western allies on
climate policies, has called a meeting of 17 nations, including
China, Russia and India, in Hawaii in late January to discuss
long-term curbs on greenhouse gases.
Despite opposition to Kyoto, the United States plans to join a
new treaty, meant to be agreed in Copenhagen in late 2009 with
participation of developing nations led by China and India.
Former US Vice President Al Gore, fresh from collecting the
Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, won rapturous applause on the sidelines
by adding his voice to criticisms of Washington.
"My own country the United States is principally responsible for
obstructing progress in Bali," he said.
The United Nations says a Kyoto successor has to be in place in
two years to give governments time to ratify the new deal by the
end of 2012 and to give markets clear guidelines on how to make
investments in clean energy technology.
In a further sign the planet is heating up, the 11 warmest years
on record have all occurred in the past 13 years, with 2007 set to
be the seventh hottest since 1950, Britain's Met Office and the
University of East Anglia said on Thursday.
Another study, to be published in Friday's issue of the journal
Science, says that in less than 50 years, oceans might be too
acidic for coral reefs to grow because of carbon emissions from the
burning of fossil fuels by humans.
(China Daily December 14, 2007)