Bali deadline passes, talks to continue overnight

15th December 2007, Comments 0 comments

14 December 2007, Bali Island, Indonesia (dpa) - Deadlines came and went on the final day of the UN climate conference Friday on Bali but by late evening uncertainty prevailed about when ministers would nail down a roadmap for negotiations for a new treaty to fight global warming. A major sticking point for the environment ministers from nearly 180 countries is the US opposition to including specific targets in the framework for two years of negotiations to conclude in 2009 and implemented in 2012, when th

14 December 2007

Bali Island, Indonesia (dpa) - Deadlines came and went on the final day of the UN climate conference Friday on Bali but by late evening uncertainty prevailed about when ministers would nail down a roadmap for negotiations for a new treaty to fight global warming.

A major sticking point for the environment ministers from nearly 180 countries is the US opposition to including specific targets in the framework for two years of negotiations to conclude in 2009 and implemented in 2012, when the Kyoto Protocol expires.

The EU, backed by developing countries, environmental groups and small island states, wants industrialised countries to commit to emissions cuts of 25 to 40 per cent of their 1990 levels by 2020 in the guidelines for those talks.

Negotiations reached an impasse as the United States and the European Union remained divided over setting specific 2020 guidelines for developed nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

As the 6 pm (1000 GMT) deadline passed without an agreement, Indonesian Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar said meetings were "ongoing," and that negotiations would continue Friday evening.

UN climate chief Yvo de Boer told a press conference hours later that negotiations were to continue overnight with a small group of 40 countries being convened at the foreign ministerial level basically to look at an official text on future targets and related issues.

The work was being divided between two sub-groups, de Boer said, with one focusing on the paragraph related to adaptation, technology and finance.

The other sub-group is examining a preamble as well as issues related to mitigation and describe what developed and developing countries will be working towards in the context of the two years period.

Once a group finishes with one issue, it will move on to the preamble language before reporting to the President on where it stands, with the work to continue during the night.

Further questions to be resolved include the deadline date of 2009 and the question of the name and formal status of the body to be created to conduct the negotiations over the next two years.

"It's very difficult to predict. When it will be finished, I don't know," de Boer said about the work still remaining.

Earlier, the US-European standoff appeared headed towards a compromise solution, breaking a deadlock over how ambitious the goal should be in negotiating future emission reductions.

"All parties are willing to be flexible to reach a compromise. We are sure that we are able to reach an agreement but also to have ambitious guidelines," German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel said. "The tone at the climate conference has changed into positive. The Americans are now more flexible."

Noting the signs of progress, de Boer said he had heard of positions presented which "judging by their length and technical detail would probably have been more appropriate for the first day of a two-week conference than the last day."

On Thursday the EU threatened to boycott any US-sponsored talks on climate change outside of the UN, stating it would be meaningless to have a major economies' meeting "if we would have a failure in Bali."

The 16-nation talks are set to take place next month under a framework inaugurated in September by US President George W Bush.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) explained that the US proposal replaces the binding reductions with text that calls upon countries to adopt any measures they deem appropriate.

"At the 11th hour the US has submitted a proposal that is the equivalent of taking no action at all against climate change," said James P Leape, WWF director-general. "This proposal would gut the international effort towards halting climate change and put the future of our planet at risk."

The US proposal is "outrageous and unfair," said Marcelo Furtado of Greenpeace. The environment organization urged the EU not to deviate from its position.

Delegates also wrangled over whether to mention scientific evidence for the need for emissions cuts as part of the guidelines for the talks.

The issue had taken on new urgency with the publication of a report last month by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), warning of irreversible catastrophe caused by global warming if greenhouse emissions are not rapidly reduced.

DPA

Subject: German news

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