EU to push for new climate deal
Government ministers from across the world are joining UN climate talks in South Africa this week as Europe pushes for action on a new legally binding deal to tackle global warming.
The EU wants to see agreement at the latest round of talks to negotiate a new international deal on cutting greenhouse gas emissions that would be concluded by 2015 and take effect by 2020.
But the plans face opposition from major polluters including India whose negotiators say they are not in Durban to launch a process for a new treaty, and for whom the issue is a "red line".
EU officials still believe securing agreement in Durban on negotiating a new deal is "possible, but challenging", though they say that if such an agreement is not made at this year's talks they will continue to push for it next year.
The EU is under huge pressure to sign up to a second round of emissions cuts commitments under the existing Kyoto climate treaty, as the first period expires at the end of next year, but has said it will only do so if there is progress on negotiating a legally binding deal on tackling climate change which includes all major economies.
Countries including Canada and Russia have said they will not sign up to a new period of commitments.
The EU has previously tried to get the Kyoto Protocol, which has never been signed by the US and does not require emissions cuts from big polluters including China, replaced with a global deal but those attempts were defeated by poor countries who feared it would spell the end of any legally binding climate treaty.
It now appears that the EU's promise to sign up to a second period of cuts under Kyoto in return for agreement on negotiating a global deal is backed by well over half the 194 countries attending the talks, including from small island states and the poorest countries led by Gambia and Bangladesh.
Countries which are set to be hit hardest by climate change seem to recognise that Europe committing to a second round of cuts under Kyoto on its own - which would cover just 15% of global emissions - will not be enough to tackle the problem.
It is thought that some of the bigger emerging economies, including Mexico, South Africa and Brazil are sympathetic to the plans for a wider deal, but China, the US and India have all voiced opposition to the bid.