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U.N. has extra round of climate talks

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only
by Staff Writers
Bonn, Germany (UPI) Feb 24, 2009
The United Nations will have an extra round of climate change talks this April in Germany to speed up stalled climate negotiations.

"The decision to intensify the negotiating schedule underlines the commitment by governments to move the negotiations forward toward success" at a major climate conference in Mexico at the end of the year, Yvo de Boer, the United Nations' top climate change official, said in a statement.

The extra summit will be April 9-11 in Bonn, ahead of 2-week negotiation scheduled to take place in the western German city at the end of May.

The next major climate summit is to take place Nov. 29-Dec. 10 in Cancun, Mexico. It is expected to draw world leaders trying to agree to an ambitious global climate protection deal.

Observers say the extra negotiations are desperately needed to bridge the gap between rich and poor nations still at odds over binding carbon dioxide-reduction pledges and financing.

De Boer added he was optimistic that Cancun could become a success, as around 80 countries responsible for "well over" 80 percent of global energy emissions have submitted 2020 emission cut targets to the United Nations.

They submitted their pledges as part of the so-called Copenhagen Accord, a text patched together in the final hours of a disappointing climate conference in this Danish city late last year.

In Copenhagen, 120 world leaders were unable to agree to more than vague promises to limit CO2 emissions. The non-binding Copenhagen Accord was merely noted but not adopted by the conference parties.

It sets the limit of global warming to 3.6 degrees F and provides short- and long-term finance to help poor nations cope with climate change; it also set 2015 as a review year to see if global action needs to be more urgent to meet the challenge. But it remains a voluntary text, and even if nations commit to it, they are not legally bound to honor their pledges.

And it's clear that nations will have to do more than what has by now promised.

A U.N. study unveiled this week at an environment summit in Bali, Indonesia, concluded that the promised emission cuts under the Copenhagen Accord were insufficient to limit temperature rise to 3.6 degrees F.

Observers say time is running out for a binding deal to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012, to be agreed in Mexico. Earlier this week, de Boer announced his resignation, which will take effect on July 1 and is expected to further destabilize the negotiations process.

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