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U.N. climate talks split over way forward in 2010

BONN, Germany (Reuters) - Rifts opened on Friday at the first U.N. climate meeting since the acrimonious Copenhagen summit about how to revive U.N. negotiations with few delegates predicting a breakthrough to combat global warming in 2010.

A visitor places a finger on an illuminated globe in the hall of the conference centre in Copenhagen, December 17, 2009, during the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009. REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski

Government negotiators at the 175-nation talks urged efforts to restore trust between rich and poor nations after the December summit in Copenhagen fell short of a full legal treaty. But none announced new concessions to help.

Outside the conference centre, environmentalists dumped about 4 tonnes of shattered glass on the ground alongside a sign marked “Copenhagen” and a banner reading: “Pick up the Pieces.”

The April 9-11 session is due to work out how many extra meetings to hold in the run-up to an annual meeting of environment ministers in Cancun, Mexico, due on November 29-December 10.

Most want two or three extra sessions, a lower pace than in 2009, but few spoke of reaching a new treaty in Mexico with most pinning hopes on 2011 when talks will be in South Africa.

“The African group believes that our priority must be to restore trust, rebuild confidence and thereby salvage the process,” said Nsiala Tosi Bibanda Mpanu Mpanu of the Democratic Republic of Congo on behalf of African nations.

Countries including Saudi Arabia, Bolivia, Venezuela and Cuba said there was a risk of repeating a mistake in the run-up to Copenhagen of working out a deal among only a few nations -- ignoring many in the 194-nation talks.


The long-running, U.N.-led process is meant to agree a successor to the Kyoto Protocol after 2012.

“Small informal groups have been convened and are proliferating ... self-selected to produce an accord behind other peoples’ backs,” Venezuela’s delegate Claudia Salerno said.

Mexico has convened informal talks among a smaller group of about 40 key nations -- many agree the U.N. process is too unwieldy with 194. The United States will host talks next week among 17 major emitters, accounting for more than 80 percent of world greenhouse gas emissions.

“We need to make progress in building compromise formulas that can be the result of an intensive and flexible process,” said Fernando Tudela, Mexico’s chief negotiator.

The U.N. summit in Denmark ended with a Copenhagen Accord, backed by about 120 countries, that seeks to limit a rise in world temperatures to below 2 Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit).

But it does not say how to achieve the goal and current pledges would mean temperatures rise by at least 3 Celsius, delegates say.

It also outlines a goal of raising $10 billion a year in aid for developing nations from 2010 to 2012, rising to $100 billion a year from 2020.

“I don’t think any one expects a full legal deal (in 2010) the differences are just too deep,” said Alden Meyer, of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

He said the talks could make progress in 2010 on starting a flow of funds, helping safeguard carbon-storing forests or helping poor countries to adapt to changes in climate such as desertification, floods or rising sea levels.

“Investors are looking for predictability to re-start their investments, and this is seen as the focal point where that predictability is going to come from,” said Nick Campbell, chair of the climate working group at the International Chamber of Commerce.

He said the talks should agree an agenda for 2010 and milestones to ensure a route to a binding deal.