U.N. Climate Talks Struggle to Agree Tiny Steps
NAIROBI Global talks to widen a fight against climate change reached gridlock on their final day on Friday after scant progress overnight to encourage rich nations to help Africa.
The two weeks of talks of some 190 countries were meant to set out next steps to work out a stronger pact beyond 2012 to rein in emissions mainly from burning fossil fuels in power plants, factories and cars widely blamed for heating the planet.
After overnight talks, some 70 ministers agreed to encourage rich nations to fund emissions cuts in Africa, but remained deadlocked on the broader extension of the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol for fighting warming beyond 2012.
"It's not a very strong statement that encourages (rich) countries -- who are willing to do so -- to consider initiatives including financial support," said Janos Pasztor, the U.N. climate body's coordinator of such funding, said of the overnight deal.
"Some will do it and some won't."
Under Kyoto rich states have contributed over $5 billion to clean energy projects in developing countries over 2 years. The money has largely bypassed Africa, and the new initiative is meant to cut investor risk by funding startup costs.
But talks had ground to a halt on setting out steps to extend the Kyoto Protocol, which some developed countries want linked to a review of the pact -- too slow for some African countries.
A new proposal for the review, reached on Friday, could break the deadlock, said the Executive Director of the U.N.'s climate change body, Yvo de Boer, on Friday.
"I hope it can be approved quite rapidly," he said.
Environmentalists said the talks, likely to last into Saturday, had to take tougher steps and set firm deadlines for agreements.
The Kyoto Protocol is supposed to be a tiny, first step towards solving climate change -- the planet's top problem alongside conflict and poverty, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the Nairobi conference this week.
In a proposal seen irrelevant by some delegates, Russia seeks a decision on allowing developing countries, which have no targets at present, to volunteer to cut their emisssions.
"The Russian proposal seemed to be quite stuck last night. There do seem to be some openings again," said de Boer.
Meanwhile Belarus wants to join the club of industrialised countries which already face targets -- but under such lax terms it could dump its surplus emissions rights and swamp an emerging carbon market, said Steve Sawyer of Greenpeace.
Besides debating how to cut further the greenhouses gases blamed for global warming, the conference had meant to turn the spotlight on how to adapt to climate changes -- floods, droughts, desertification and rising sea levels.
But the meeting has delayed until next year a decision on who should run funds to help poor countries adapt to climate change.
"Rich countries should have achieved more at this conference and made more firm commitments to combat climate injustice," said Sharon Looremeta of environmental group Practical Action.