UN urges leaders to take charge in climate talks

The shape of a broader climate pact is clearer after marathon talks in the Thai capital, the United Nations said, as rich nations were urged not to ditch the Kyoto Protocol or dodge tough emissions cuts.
Speaking near the end of two-week UN talks on ways to draw all nations into the fight against climate change, the world body said leaders had little time left to show more ambition on a deal to brake the rapid growth of planet-warming carbon emissions.
“All the ingredients for success are on the table and what we must do now is step back from self interest and let common interest prevail,” Yvo de Boer, the head of the UN Climate Change Secretariat, told reporters.
The Bangkok talks are the last major negotiating session before a December 7-18 meeting in Copenhagen meant to agree on a broader framework to expand or replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the UN’s main weapon in the fight against climate change.
Delegates from about 180 nations spent the past two weeks trying to clarify the wording and options in a draft text that will form the basis of a new agreement that could transform the global economy and prevent dangerous climate change.
The talks made progress on ways to help poorer nations adapt to the effects of climate change, transfer of clean-energy technology and mechanisms to collect and share climate funds.
But deadlock remained on the amount of cash available to poorer nations and the size of rich nations’ commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions, two key areas the UN and developing nations say are halting progress.
“On financing, all the industrialized countries have been missing in action,” said Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists, urging the United States to “step up to the plate.”
Analysts said Copenhagen would only succeed if world leaders take tough decisions.
“It’s clearer than ever that real progress in these negotiations requires fundamental breakthroughs at the political level,” said Elliot Diringer of Washington-based Pew Centre on Global Climate Change.
Obama to visit?
In a possible boost to the talks, US President Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize last week, with the Nobel committee praising his climate policies as being more constructive than his predecessor’s. The award ceremony will be on December 10, a few days after the start of the Copenhagen meeting.
The Bangkok talks were overshadowed by a row between rich and poor over the future of Kyoto, whose first phases ends in 2012.
Kyoto only obliges 37 industrialized countries to meet binding economy-wide emissions targets between 2008-12.
Developing nations, exempted under Kyoto from binding cuts, are under pressure to formally sign up to emissions reduction steps. Collectively, the developing world is now the largest emitter of greenhouse gases.
The European Union says Kyoto has not worked and needs changing or the creation of a pact to commit all major emitters, including the United States, which never ratified Kyoto.
“I don’t think that any of us have yet found the magic solution to solving the climate change problem,” Jonathan Pershing, the head of the US delegation, told reporters.
“Our suggestion is that we should be clear and transparent. We are looking for a way that countries can understand what each other is doing,” he said.
Developing nations want Kyoto to remain but fear rich nations are trying to lower their emissions targets just as poorer nations are trying to raise their efforts to curb emissions.
“With less than two months from this landmark climate conference, people out there in the real world would need to be assured and reassured that a great escape from Copenhagen by the Annex I (rich) countries would not occur,” Yu Qingtai, China’s special envoy for climate change, told delegates last week.