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Issue 30
, 2010
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Time short for climate deal: ex-U.N. envoy

Source: Reuters, Date: , 2010

A former U.N. special envoy on climate change said he doesn't expect any major progress by key nations to draw up a new climate pact at a meeting next month in Mexico because opinions are still too divided.

"I do not, frankly speaking, expect too much from the COP-16 (conference of parties) in Cancun, because opinions are so divided and an agreement has not been made between major carbon emitters," Han Seung-soo said in an interview as part of Reuters Global Climate and Alternative Energy Summit.

"As you may know, the climate meeting in Tianjin (China) clouded prospects."

Frustration between the world's two top carbon polluters, the United States and China, overshadowed last week's U.N. talks in Tianjin which were aimed resolving differences over the shape of a new climate pact.

Negotiators made some progress on financing but failed to dispel fears the process could end in deadlock.

Last December's major climate conference in Copenhagen also ended in disappointment, failing to reach a new legally binding deal to replace or expand the Kyoto Protocol that ends in 2012.

Poorer nations have asked the rich to do much more to rein in carbon pollution while wealthy countries insist on substantial cuts in emissions from major developing countries like China and India.

Han cited feuding over how rich and emerging nations check on each other's efforts to reduce CO2 emissions as a key sticking point.

"The United States wants verification by international organizations whereas a lot of developing countries want to have a domestically binding (verification)," he said.

Delaying agreement would leave less time for the world to figure out how to curb carbon emissions and increase uncertainties weighing on companies unsure about climate policy and carbon markets after 2012.

In coping with such a global problem, Han, former president of the UN General Assembly, still thinks the United Nations approach is the best forward, saying it was better than bilateral talks and separate treaties among big emitters.


A lengthy political process such as ratification national legislatures underscores the urgency for the world to act promptly. "Unfortunately, time is ticking," Han told Reuters. "We are behind schedule already."

However, energy-wise, what countries are doing at home and what they say at an international negotiation table is different, he said.

"China, in their own way, is trying very hard to control emissions," Han said. "But they do not want to be dictated by other countries or an international organization on what they are doing."