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UN climate head outlines plan to fight climate change
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A UN top climate official outlined detailed steps Wednesday to enhance global cooperation in fighting climate change during an address at the US-sponsored international climate change conference in Hawaii.

The steps will enable the world's major economies to strengthen the international response to climate change, said Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The two-day closed-door conference in Honolulu, known as the Major Economics Meeting on Energy Security and Climate Change, has drawn representatives from the United Nations, the European Union as well as 16 major economies.

Participants were debating ways to tackle climate change without halting development.

"What we have is a new process on a long-term cooperative action under the convention and negotiations to do at least three things," De Boer said.

"First, define measurable, reportable, and verifiable appropriate emission limitation commitments to developed countries and mitigation actions for developing countries," he said.

The second point is "to determine essential actions to adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change and to promote climate resilient development," he added.

He said the third aspect is "to mobilize the necessary financial and technological cooperation to support these actions also in a measurable, reportable and verifiable way."

The UN climate head said the participants had "a major responsibility to make the Bali Roadmap a success."

At the climate change talks in Bali, Indonesia, last December, the US government agreed to help write a new accord to replace the emissions-limiting UN Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

The protocol sets up emissions cuts targets for developed countries, however, some countries have since expressed a wish to change some of the contents of the protocol.

The Bali Roadmap sets the framework for negotiations for a long-term agreement on emissions cuts, including the United States, which is the only industrial power to remain outside the protocol.

Negotiations will end in Copenhagen at the end of 2009, giving parties time to ratify the treaty so that it takes effect at the end of 2012, following on from current commitments under the protocol.

"The real work begins now with an incredibly busy time ahead," de Boer said. "There is no time left that the world can lose. All efforts now have to focus on getting the negotiations on the climate change deal off the ground to be ready by 2009."

De Boer also urged all participants to focus more on pushing for curbs on greenhouse gas emissions by major polluters.

"It's important to bear in mind that the most vulnerable communities in the poorest countries, those who have contributed nothing to climate change, will be the worst affected by its impacts," de Boer said ahead of the meeting.

The Honolulu meeting is aimed at pushing along UN negotiations for an international climate agreement by 2009, so a pact will be ready when the carbon-capping Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

The meeting was designed to get participating countries to agree to "binding market-based and voluntary measures" to save the world from climate catastrophe.

Issues to be discussed are "a long-term global goal for greenhouse gas reduction that's consistent with economic development objectives," according to James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. 

(Xinhua News Agency January 31, 2008)

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