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NUSA DUA, Indonesia (Reuters) - Chances that developing nations such as China would agree to cut greenhouse gas emissions receded on Friday as U.N. talks inched forward in seeking a new world pact by 2009 to fight global warming.
"Nothing's been ruled out," said Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat at the December 3-14 talks among 190 nations in a luxury beach resort in Bali, Indonesia.
"Binding commitments for developing countries are not off the table but are crawling towards the edge," he said of the possibility that developing nations would agree to join many rich nations in capping greenhouse gas emissions.
The negotiations aim to agree a "roadmap" to work out a broader, more ambitious climate deal to succeed the Kyoto Protocol by 2009, spurred by U.N. reports warning of ever more heatwaves, droughts, and rising seas.
Delegates must find words equally palatable to rich countries such as the United States and Japan, which want developing nations to fight climate change harder, and the likes of China and India, which want to be paid to take such effort.
"The negotiations on the future are going very well," de Boer added of the overall talks on a new global pact.
De Boer said most rich nations seemed to agree it was too early to expect developing nations to cap emissions. China's emissions of greenhouse gases per capita, for instance, are about 4 tons against 20 tons per American.
Many developing countries say they will at most try to brake the rise of their emissions but want incentives such as clean technology and aid. About a dozen trade ministers will meet in Bali at the weekend and finance ministers on Monday.
Kyoto binds 36 industrialized nations to cut emissions of greenhouse gases, mainly from burning fossil fuels, by 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12. The United States opposes Kyoto, saying it would cost jobs and unfairly omits 2012 targets for developing nations.
De Boer said a huge shift in world financing was needed, referring to a U.N. report in August project that net annual investments of $200-$210 billion by 2030 were needed to curb emissions, in areas from renewable energies to nuclear power.
He likened a shift in world financing to a bold mission into space in the U.S. TV series "Star Trek", saying "investments will have to go to places they have never gone before."
Outside the conference centre, about two dozen representatives of indigenous groups staged a protest, wearing gags, saying they had been barred from entering the conference centre for a scheduled meeting.
Indigenous groups worry they will be marginalized by a scheme under discussion in Bali to allow poor countries to earn money by selling carbon credits to preserve their rainforests.
De Boer praised China for what he called a "constructive" role at the talks. China is seeking to cut the amount of greenhouse gases emitted per unit of gross domestic product and to raise the share of renewable energies.
The United States remained under pressure after the U.S. House of Representatives passed an energy bill on Thursday that would boost vehicle fuel economy requirements by 40 percent by 2020, but the White House said it would veto the bill.
"The political centre of gravity in the United States has really shifted," said Angela Anderson of the National Environmental Trust. "It's time to stop looking at where the United States has been and look at where the United States is going."
-- For Reuters latest environment blogs click on: blogs.reuters.com/environment/
Additional reporting by Alister Doyle and David Fogarty; editing by Roger Crabb