Climate talks end with modest steps, no Kyoto deal

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Activists of Environment Greenpeace perform next to a giant life ring, during talks on climate change, in Cancun beach December 10, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Henry Romero

CANCUN, Mexico | Sun Dec 12, 2010 5:05pm EST

CANCUN, Mexico (Reuters) - The world's governments agreed on Saturday to modest steps to combat climate change and to give more money to poor countries, but they put off until next year tough decisions on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

The deal includes a Green Climate Fund that would give $100 billion a year in aid to poor nations by 2020, measures to protect tropical forests and ways to share clean energy technologies.

Ending a marathon session of talks in the Mexican beach resort of Cancun, almost 200 countries also set a target of limiting a rise in average world temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F) over pre-industrial times.

But there was no major progress on how to extend the Kyoto Protocol, which obliges almost 40 rich nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The failure to resolve the central problem of emissions dismayed environmental groups. It was also unclear how the $100 billion a year for the Green Climate Fund will be raised.

The first round of Kyoto expires in 2012, it does not include China and the United States -- the world's two biggest emitters -- and there is no consensus over whether developing countries should have binding targets to cut emissions or whether rich countries have more to do first.

The main success in Cancun after two weeks of talks was simply preventing the collapse of climate change negotiations, promoting support for a shift to low carbon economies and rebuilding trust between rich and poor countries on the challenges of global warming.

Major players were relieved there was no repeat of the acrimonious failure seen at the Copenhagen summit last year, but they warned there was still a long way to go. The Cancun accord builds on a non-binding deal by 140 nations in Copenhagen.

"The most important thing is that the multilateral process has received a shot in the arm, it had reached an historic low. It will fight another day," Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh told Reuters. "It could yet fail."

"We have a long, challenging journey ahead of us. Whether it's doable in a short period of time, to get a legally binding deal, I don't know," the European Union's climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard said of a deal beyond 2012.

U.S. President Barack Obama, whose domestic plans to legislate cuts in greenhouse emissions have stalled, said the Cancun meeting was a success and advances the world's response to climate change.

Carbon offset markets worth $20 billion depend on Kyoto emissions caps to drive developed countries to pay for cuts in greenhouse gases in developing nations as a cheaper alternative to cutting their own greenhouse gases.

The Cancun agreement would "build upon" such markets, giving them some support despite the doubt over Kyoto itself.

Abyd Karmali, global head of carbon markets for the Bank of America Merrill Lynch said the deal lays the foundation for progress.

But experts said that current pledges for curbs in greenhouse gas emissions were too weak for the 2 Celsius goal.

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Comments (2)
tangogo68 wrote:

Bolivia alone had the moral backbone to put the long-term (people) ahead of the short-term (profits) — the Australian minister ‘for’ climate change is a dedicated procrastinator, a determined wrecker of any actual substantive progress towards an economic renewal based on science rather than denial & doubt — do the head-in-the-sand diplomats and politicians think that future generations won’t have access to historical information about who sold out their hopes for a lifestyle even nearly on par with the relative comforts and conveniences enjoyed by the current exploitative western civilization ? — the procrastinators like Greg Combet cannot hide from history, no matter how hard they try to dodge the future problems that they are working feverishly to ignore.

Dec 12, 2010 2:27am EST  --  Report as abuse
barricudda wrote:

Until someone finds a way to a profit centered angle on cutting greenhouse commissions, changes will only then take form. That’s the sad reality of it all in everything these days.

Dec 12, 2010 10:29am EST  --  Report as abuse
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