US plays down expectations for climate talks

The top US climate negotiator warned against any expectations of a binding deal at the next UN conference.

New York: The top US climate negotiator warned today against any expectations of a binding deal on cutting greenhouse gas emissions at the next UN conference on the issue in Cancun, Mexico beginning in November.

Climate change special envoy Todd Stern said after a high-level meeting here that nations would instead seek progress on non-binding decisions at the Mexico talks, which some experts believe will produce another stalemate.

“No one is anticipating or expecting in any way a legal treaty to be done in Cancun this year. The focus at this point is on a set of decisions on the core issues," Stern said after talks among 17 nations responsible for 80 per cent of carbon emissions.

The two-day Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate was set up by US President Barack Obama to follow up last year`s climate summit in Copenhagen, which ended in disappointment and without a binding deal.

"I think there are many participants that want to get a binding agreement within a reasonable time. I just don`t see that in the cards for the Cancun meeting," Stern said.

"Expectations are not too high, but they are not low," Stern said, summing up the mood among climate negotiators ahead of the Cancun talks.

Stern added that the New York talks had revealed "broad agreement on the importance of making progress in Cancun" on climate mitigation, transparency and financing for developing countries to cut greenhouse emissions.

After the acrimony and bitterness of the Copenhagen summit last December, Stern said that the Cancun meeting would revert to the level of ministers and senior foreign ministry officials, with no world leaders expected.

Despite the White House`s failure to get a climate change bill through Congress, and the dim prospects for such action, Stern said that Obama was sticking by his pledge to cut emissions by 17 per cent from 2005 levels by 2020.

Bureau Report

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