Kyoto pact rift threatens progress at U.N. climate talks

Tue Apr 5, 2011 12:25pm GMT

Under Kyoto, developing nations only have to take voluntary steps to curb emissions growth from industry. They are firmly opposed to taking any targets and say they must let their economies grow to lift millions out of poverty.

Impatience is growing during the talks, which began with a series of informal workshops on Sunday, with poorer nations pointing to the increasing impact of climate change, such as storms, droughts and crop failures.

The Cancun meeting put off a decision on Kyoto until a major meeting at the end of this year in Durban, South Africa.

But the United Nations fears no decision will be taken on the shape of a new pact at those talks, almost certainly leading to a gap between the end of Kyoto's first phase at end-2012 and any future agreement.

This is a major worry for investors because there will be no certainty on how a $20 billion carbon market under the Kyoto Protocol would function. The market also underpins billions in investments in clean energy projects in poorer nations.

Australia, on behalf of an umbrella group of nations including Japan, Russia and Canada, said group members were "all committed to be part of a balanced, environmentally effective and comprehensive global deal".

But Dessima Williams of Grenada, speaking on behalf of a 43-member alliance of small island states, said it was time for rich nations to show if they had the appetite to deepen their emission cut pledges.

The United Nations says the pledges on the table are far below what is needed to have a medium chance of avoiding a 2C rise.

"To KP or not to KP is not the question," Saudi Arabia told the meeting, referring to the Kyoto Protocol, adding the world had repeatedly missed chances to decide on the shape of new climate pact. (Editing by Robert Birsel)

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