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Climate talks 'at crunch point'

The latest round of United Nations climate talks are reaching "crunch point" as government ministers from around the world make a final push for progress towards a new deal on tackling global warming.

Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne warned countries that allowing the conference in Cancun, Mexico, to become a "car crash of a summit" was in nobody's interest.

Mr Huhne said there was a willingness to make progress at the conference, which comes after last year's talks in Copenhagen, Denmark, ended in chaos, and urged countries to compromise.

There were some positive signs from the EU, as Spain became the latest country to back a move by Europe to a more ambitious emissions cuts target of 30% reductions on 1990 levels by 2020, up from 20%.

And Mr Huhne said progress could be made on issues such as cutting emissions, tackling deforestation and providing finance for poor countries to deal with climate change.

He said: "Agreement here on the key issues would send a message from Cancun. A global deal on climate change is not an impossible dream. Let's do it."

Addressing the conference, he told ministers from around the world he wanted to see a legally-binding deal that kept temperature rises to 2C or less.

Mr Huhne has been co-chairing meetings on emissions cuts and leading discussions on the thorny issue of the future of Kyoto, the existing climate treaty that covers most rich nations but not major emitters including the US and China, which has threatened to scupper progress on other issues.

A failure by negotiators at Cancun to make progress towards a new deal would further undermine the UN climate negotiating process, which was left reeling after the Copenhagen talks failed to deliver the hoped-for international legally-binding agreement on cutting emissions and tackling global warming.

But the UN's former top climate official, Yvo de Boer, who presided over the Copenhagen meeting, said he believed there was a "very good" chance that a deal could be done at the next conference in South Africa in 2011.


From Belfast Telegraph