Time for Copenhagen deal running out: UN climate chief

The 4,000-odd negotiators from 177 countries, who are here for the September 28-October 9 talks to prepare for the December summit, have one day here (Bangkok) and five days in Barcelona next month to draft an agreement for Copenhagen, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer pointed out.

Reviewing the talks since the beginning of last week, de Boer said: "We have seen real movement here on adaptation and technology transfer."  He was referring to ways in which industrialised countries can help developing countries adapt to global warming and to provide green technologies.

Some industrialised countries have proposed to do away with the 1997 protocol - the current international treaty to fight climate change - on the grounds that this may be only way to bring on board the US, which has rejected the protocol. Developing countries are strenuously opposing this move. "Developing countries are not seeing any advance on key political issues," de Boer said at a press conference. "Unless we see it, it is very difficult for the negotiators here to continue their work in good faith."

Asked to react to proposals from some industrialised countries to merge the Kyoto Protocol into a new treaty, de Boer replied: "That's like arguing over the wrapping paper when you don't have a present."

Reacting to a question on what would happen if the summit this December came up with a weak agreement, the UN climate chief said: "If the ambition in Copenhagen does not measure up to the science, we shall have to reconvene" the series of meetings that have been going on all this year.

Asked if developing countries were willing to have their "nationally appropriate mitigation actions" (NAMA) under international scrutiny, de Boer replied: "What's the point of taking your NAMA to a dry watering hole." He was referring to the lack of financial commitment by developed countries to help the developing world deal with climate change.
A group of youths from Bangkok Thursday gave de Boer a large bunch of signatures they had collected, urging global leaders to come up with a strong agreement in Copenhagen. It was organised by the UN Environment Programme under its "seal the deal" campaign.

Climate change, caused by excess greenhouse gases in the atmosphere - almost all emitted by industrialised countries over the last 250 years or so - is already reducing farm output, making droughts, floods and storms more frequent and more severe and raising the sea level. Developing countries such as India are bearing the brunt of the effects.

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