Industrialized nations are failing to lead enough at U.N. climate talks in Bonn even as developing states are showing interest in a new global warming treaty, the U.N.'s top climate official said on Wednesday. Yvo de Boer also predicted that U.S. climate policy would be more ambitious under either Democrat Barack Obama or Republican John McCain, the two main candidates to succeed President George W. Bush from January 2009.
Industrialized nations are failing to lead enough at U.N. climate talks in Bonn even as developing states are showing interest in a new global warming treaty, the U.N.'s top climate official said on Wednesday.
Yvo de Boer also predicted that U.S. climate policy would be more ambitious under either Democrat Barack Obama or Republican John McCain, the two main candidates to succeed President George W. Bush from January 2009.
"We're not at the moment seeing the leadership from industrialized countries which I think is essential," de Boer told Reuters at June 2-13 climate talks, part of a marathon meant to end with a new world climate treaty by the end of 2009.
"But we are seeing a huge willingness on the part of developing countries to engage" in working out a new pact in return for aid and technology, he said. De Boer is head of the Bonn-based U.N. Climate Change Secretariat.
Among examples, he said Mexico favored a new financial mechanism funded by both rich and poor to slow climate change while South Africa had outlined ways to cut its emissions by 50 percent. India plans this month to issue a new climate strategy.
Industrialized nations are meant to take the lead by targeting deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions beyond the Kyoto Protocol. Kyoto binds 37 Industrialized nations to cut emissions by an average 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12.
Developing nations, outside Kyoto along with the United States which views the pact as flawed and too costly, have agreed at least to slow the rise of their emissions as part of the new pact to be agreed in Copenhagen in 2009.
But they say they will need new technologies, such as solar or wind power, and cash partly to help them adapt to impacts of climate change such as more droughts, more powerful storms, crop failures or rising sea levels.
De Boer said soaring oil prices were maintaining interest in renewable energy and curbing use of fossil fuels despite worries about extra costs of fighting climate change amid high food prices and an economic slowdown in some nations.
"In many sectors of the economy it only increases the interest to look at production costs," he said.
De Boer said developed nations should focus more on targeting 2020 curbs on emissions of greenhouse gases than on longer-term goals such as halving global emissions by 2050 which is under consideration for a Group of Eight summit next month.
"I kneel in front of my bed every night and hope that we're going to get a 2020 commitment by the G8 countries but I don't think my prayers are being heard at the moment," he said.
He said that 2050 goals were less relevant to investors who want to know rules, for instance, for investing in coal-fired power plants or wind farms as soon as possible.
Japan, which will host the G8 summit, announced a goal of cutting its emissions by 60-80 percent by 2050 on Monday.
And Bush said on Tuesday that a global climate agreement was possible during his presidency. The U.S. is sponsoring talks among major emitters, aiming to agree cuts this year that would feed into the U.N. pact by the end of 2009.
"I think it's moving as fast as you can realistically expect," de Boer said of the Bonn talks, adding that challenges remained daunting for a deal by the end of 2009.