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UN Climate Negotiators Urged To Break Deadlock

Melting ice caps pose a danger on numerous levels, experts agree.

Melting ice caps pose a danger on numerous levels, experts agree.

BANGKOK (Reuters) -- Delegates at the start of marathon climate talks in Thailand have ben told that the world expects action as they struggle to break the deadlock in negotiations for a tougher pact to fight global warming.

The Bangkok talks, which began on September 28 and will run until October 9, are the last major negotiating round before a gathering in Copenhagen in December that the United Nations has set as a deadline to seal a broad agreement on a pact to expand and replace the Kyoto Protocol.

"Time is not just pressing. It has almost run out," Yvo de Boer, the head of the UN Climate Change Secretariat, told delegates from about 190 countries.

"But in two weeks real progress can be made toward the goals that world leaders have set for the negotiations to break deadlocks and to cooperate towards concrete progress," he said.

Delegates at the talks are tasked with trying to streamline a draft legal text of a pact that would replace Kyoto. The main text, running to about 180 pages is filled with blanks, options, and alternative-wording options.

The UN-led negotiations have become bogged down over arguments about rich nations' targets to cut emissions by 2020, financing for poorer nations to adapt to climate change and to curb their own greenhouse gas emissions and the best way to deliver and manage those funds.

"We've talked for long enough, the world expects actions," Connie Hedegaard, Denmark's minister of climate change and energy and host of the December 7-18 Copenhagen gathering, told delegates.

The United Nations, many developing nations and green groups have expressed frustration about the lack of progress during several negotiating rounds in the run-up to Copenhagen.

Essential Elements

De Boer spoke of progress at last week's UN climate change summit in New York but said a Copenhagen agreement to must have five essential elements.

These included enhanced steps to help the most vulnerable nations adapt to climate change impacts, tougher emissions targets for rich nations, which are currently well below the 25-40 percent reductions from 1990 levels by 2020 recommended by the UN climate panel, and cash to help poorer countries cut their emissions.

"The Bangkok talks must end in an evident spirit of cooperation and with evident progress," he said.

"The political winds are behind you. The negotiating sails are set," de Boer told delegates, and implored them to "pull up anchor and make full sail before we lose the tide and are left stranded on the beach, exposed to the coming storms".

Hedegaard said a picture was beginning to emerge from the puzzle of the climate text, but rapid progress was needed to refine it down to a document with clear political choices.

"We must have a text that is operational, understandable and suitable for the further work, a text that spells out clear political options. This is currently not the case."