U.N. talks urged to seek modest climate deal

Mon Nov 29, 2010 9:23pm GMT

By Alister Doyle and Gerard Wynn

CANCUN, Mexico (Reuters) - Almost 200 nations at U.N. climate talks in Mexico must compromise on a modest package of measures or face escalating damage from floods, droughts and rising seas, scientists and politicians said on Monday.

"Our relation with nature is reaching a critical point," Mexican President Felipe Calderon told the opening of the two-week talks in a tightly guarded hotel by the Caribbean with warships patrolling off the coast.

"We either must change our way of life to stop climate change or climate change will permanently alter the way of life of our civilization, and it will not be for the better," he said.

The talks of almost 200 nations will seek to break deadlock between rich and poor -- especially the United States and China -- on ways to slow climate change since the U.N.'s climate summit in Copenhagen last year failed to agree a binding treaty.

The United Nations wants agreement on a new "green fund" to help developing nations and ways preserve rain forests and help the poor adapt to a hotter world. It will also seek to formalize existing targets to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Calderon said that extreme weather including storms in Mexico, floods in Pakistan and a heatwave in Russia in 2010 showed a need for compromise to pave the way to more action.

"Delays in action would only lead to impacts which would be much larger and in all likelihood more severe than we have had so far," Rajendra Pachauri, head of the U.N. panel of climate scientists, told an opening ceremony of the two-week meeting.

He said costs of containing global warming would rise the longer the world waited.   Continued...

<p>Executive Secretary of the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat (UNFCCC) Christiana Figueres (L), Mexico's Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa (C) and Mexico's President Felipe Calderon attend the inauguration of the U.N. climate talks in Cancun November 29, 2010. REUTERS/Ariel Gutierrez/Mexico Presidency/Handout</p>
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