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Climate progress possible in Cancun despite problems: UN
Paris (AFP) Nov 10, 2010
World climate talks resuming in Mexico shortly could recover lost momentum by crafting a deal on four big issues, including the outlines of a fund to muster hundreds of billions of dollars in aid, the UN climate chief said on Wednesday.
"Everything I see tells me that there is a deal to be done," said Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The meeting to take place in the resort city of Cancun from November 29 to December 10 is the annual conference of the 194 parties to the UNFCCC.
It caps a miserable year for the United Nations' forum on climate change, stymied by a near-fiasco at last December's Copenhagen summit where world leaders had been expected to approve a post-2012 pact and by belt-tightening in many countries.
The future treaty will, at best, be completed only at the end of 2011, say sources at the negotiations.
Figueres, however, said Cancun could unlock "a mutually agreeable deal to get action started" in four important areas.
These were: measures to cope with climate change, the transfer of clean technology from rich economies to poorer countries, curbing carbon emissions from forest loss and creating a new fund for long-term climate financing.
Progress in Cancun would be a springboard for "bigger and better agreements every year," she argued, adding though that compromise was essential.
"I'm not going to underestimate the political gaps that still need to be bridged," she said.
Figueres pointed to three major areas of discord: burden-sharing on reducing carbon emissions that drive climate change; the future of the UNFCCC's Kyoto Protocol after pledges expire at the end of 2012; and how to count and monitor national pledges of action.
Even so, a spirit of pragmatism now infused talks after the Copenhagen setback, she told reporters in a teleconference from Bonn.
"Countries have actually learned for themselves... that there is no such thing as one all-encompassing solution," Figueres said.
"They also seem to be setting out to develop the building blocks upon which they can build realistic action on the ground, because countries really need results on the ground right now. And I don't see them veering away from that in any sudden way."
The climate fund would be the biggest star in a constellation of institutions to help finance emissions reductions or shore up defences against worsening drought, floods and rising seas.
In Copenhagen, rich countries set the goal of channelling up to 100 billion dollars a year in climate aid from all sources by 2020. They also promised a total of 30 billion in "fast-start" aid from 2010 to 2012.
Figueres said debate over the still-unnamed fund was whether the entity should be formally launched in Cancun and then its architecture agreed, or the other way round.
Even so, "there is consensus about the need to establish a fund, there is also consensus about the need to have a trustee and to have a government structure around the fund," she said.
"I am confident that the differences that are still on the table about the fund can be ironed out."
earlier related report
"We're hopeful there'll be a number of concrete goals that come out of this," US ambassador to the European Union, William Kennard, said ahead of a November 20 US-EU summit being held in Lisbon, Portugal.
The event, to be held straight after a NATO summit in the same city, will be Obama's first encounter with EU president Herman Van Rompuy, whose position was created under the EU's new Lisbon Treaty which came into force last December.
Following the treaty, which it was hoped would give the bloc's half a billion people a stronger say in world affairs, there have been growing fears that Washington is losing interest in Europe.
Last spring a planned Obama summit with the EU was cancelled at the last minute while emerging powers such as China have upped their profile on the world stage.
Sweeping aside such concerns, Kennard said "we have a deep and intense relationship day to day. On all major foreign policy issues we are engaged with Europe."
"You don't test a relationship on face-time, that's not appropriate."
Kennard said that jobs and economic growth would top the agenda at the brief summit, with leaders expected to go over the conclusions of the G20 summit taking place this week.
But trade issues, development aid, and ways of countering mutual security threats from "terrorism that is intensifying and is an ever-changing threat" would also be on the table.
There were also hopes the summit, which will bring together not only Obama and Van Rompuy but also the head of the EU's executive arm, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, would produce a joint position ahead of the Cancun Conference on climate change that kicks off November 29.
"We as an administration are committed and aggressive" on fighting global warming, Kennard said, despite the fact that Obama's climate change legislation has failed to pass through Congress.
There would be efforts at the summit to hammer out a joint position. "Coordination will be about going into Cancun together."
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Brussels (AFP) Nov 10, 2010
Washington hopes President Barack Obama's first summit next week with Europe's new leadership will deliver concrete decisions as well as cement views on issues from climate to terrorism, a top US official said Wednesday. "We're hopeful there'll be a number of concrete goals that come out of this," US ambassador to the European Union, William Kennard, said ahead of a November 20 US-EU summit ... read more
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