From: Reuters
Published August 30, 2007 04:55 PM

Rich Countries Deadlocked Over 2020 Climate Goals

VIENNA - Industrial nations were deadlocked on Thursday about whether to set stringent 2020 goals for cutting greenhouse gases at a first U.N. session about long-term climate targets, delegates said.


A draft text at the Vienna meeting said rich countries should recognize a need for cuts of between 25 and 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 to avert the worst effects of climate change.


Russia, Japan, Canada, New Zealand and Switzerland objected that such goals would be too demanding after a first period of the U.N. Kyoto Protocol, the main plan for fighting global warming, ends in 2012, delegates said.


The European Union was among those in favor of the non-binding range to guide future work by governments as part of a drive to shift from use of fossil fuels.


"I hope we will be able to agree on an indicative range," Leon Charles of Grenada, the chair of the meeting who drafted the proposed text, told Reuters.


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Delegates from 158 countries are meeting in Vienna from August 27 to 31 to try to agree ways to extend a fight against global warming after a first period of Kyoto ending in 2012.


Environmentalists urged all rich nations to take the lead and agree deep cuts to avert mounting effects likely to include more powerful storms, more floods, droughts and rising seas.


"Only if industrialized countries agree to cut their emissions by at least 25-40 percent by 2020 does the world have a chance of avoiding the worst excesses of climate change," said Stephanie Tunmore of Greenpeace.


Kyoto binds 35 countries to cut emissions, mainly from burning fossil fuels, by 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12.


Thursday's talks were the first chance for Kyoto backers to see if they could agree a range of cuts to guide talks on a new climate pact by the end of 2009. The United States is not part of Kyoto and not involved in the discussions.


Charles's draft aims to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions at a level that would limit global warming to between 2.0 and 2.4 Celsius (3.6 and 4.3 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.


The EU, which has said it will unilaterally cut emissions by 20 percent by 2020 and by 30 percent if other countries follow suit, says that any gain in temperatures above two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) will bring "dangerous" climate changes.


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