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Europe urges steeper greenhouse gas cuts

by Staff Writers
Nusa Dua, Indonesia (AFP) Dec 4, 2007
The EU again dangled the prospect of even steeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions on Tuesday, as nations held nitty-gritty talks to cope with the looming threat of global warming.

The proposal came as nearly 190 nations began hammering out the preliminary details in a long process to agree to a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, the main international accord on climate change, before its expiry in 2012.

But as wealthy countries wrangled over how to cut the emissions blamed for placing the planet in peril, poorer nations said they needed tens of billions more dollars right away to fight the ravages of global warming.

Trying to spur nations like the United States which have hesitated to make binding commitments on emissions cuts, the European Union urged rich nations to rally together to slash greenhouse gas output by 30 percent by the year 2020.

The wealthy bloc has pledged a 20 percent reduction by then, but reiterated that it would raise that commitment to 30 percent if other developed nations agree to do the same under a new worldwide deal.

"We are not aiming for a low-carbon economy for the European Union alone -- we are aiming for a low-carbon economy for the globe," said Nuno Lacasta, a climate change official of current EU chair Portugal.

"Under a new global climate agreement, for which we hope this Bali conference will agree to launch negotiations, it is actually necessary for developed countries to cut their collective emissions by 30 percent by 2020."

The offer came at the 11-day UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference on Indonesia's resort island of Bali, which is intended to take the first steps to finding Kyoto's replacement.

The United States -- currently the world's worst polluter and the only industrialised nation not to have ratified the Protocol -- has so far rejected mandatory emissions cuts, advocating voluntary targets instead.

Growing economies such as India and China, which are on track to become the major carbon polluters, are also reluctant to commit to binding targets, saying the industrialised world was historically to blame for climate change.

UNFCCC executive secretary Yvo de Boer said talks were off to an encouraging start.

He said a working group had been established to thrash out a calendar for the intricate years-long international negotiations needed to forge an agreement of such complexity and sweep.

He also said an important decision had been taken to help oversee the transfer of technologies to cope with climate change from richer to poorer nations.

"Developing countries feel that the rich countries have not done enough to transfer technology," de Boer told AFP. "It's very important that this issue is examined."

Poor countries are forecast to suffer most from the effects of global warming, with increased droughts, flooding, hunger and water stress.

Delegates from Bangladesh, Cambodia and Papua New Guinea joined global relief agency Oxfam in demanding that rich countries help foot the bill, with costs estimated at 50 billion dollars a year.

Oxfam said the current level of funding for poorer nations was an "insult".

The Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said earlier this year that evidence for global warming was unequivocal, and without prompt action, the world could see irreversible effects, including desertification and extinction of up to 30 percent of plants and animals.

But delegates cautioned the world needed more than just ambitious goals.

"Setting targets is one thing," said Artur Runge-Metzger of the European Commission. "Implementing these targets is the second question, so you need to really need to come forward with the right legislation."

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Bali climate meet must show results: Pacific islands
Beppu, Japan (AFP) Dec 4, 2007
Leaders of small Pacific island states threatened by rising sea levels on Tuesday called for action rather than empty rhetoric at a key climate change conference underway in Bali.

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