Pressure for climate deal increases

The international climate talks stepped up a gear today hoping to reach a deal with only five days left.

A draft agreement distributed last week to the 192-nation Copenhagen conference set no firm figures on financing or on cutting greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming.

It said all countries together should reduce emissions by 50% to 95% by 2050, and rich countries should cut emissions by 25% to 40% by 2020, in both cases using 1990 as the baseline year.

So far industrial nations’ pledges to cut emissions have amounted to far less than the minimum.

What negotiators and scientists do agree on is that global warming will lead to dramatic changes that mean more widespread drought, greater flooding along coastlines, stronger storms and the extinction of some species.

The draft continues the system for industrial countries set up in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol by which they are legally bound to targets for emission reductions and face penalties if they fall short.

It makes no similar requirements of developing countries like China and India, which have pledged to reduce the growth rate of emissions but reject the notion of turning those voluntary pledges into legal commitments.

China now is the world’s largest polluter, followed by the United States.

As talks continued police were on the lookout for new protests in the city centre, where more than 1,200 people were detained this weekend. Almost all of them were released after questioning.

About a dozen were held on preliminary charges of assaulting police officers or carrying knives.

There were sporadic reports of vandalism across the city overnight .

A police spokesman said 12 cars had been set on fire.

Yesterday’s private consultations focused on about a half-dozen plans on financing for poor countries to deal with climate change. One joint proposal by Mexico and Norway calls for a “Green Fund” for climate financing, starting with $10bn (€6.83bn) a year in 2013, and increasing to $40bn dollars a year by 2020

Separately, a proposal aimed at saving the world’s tropical forests suffered a setback when negotiators ditched plans for faster action on the problem because of concerns that rich countries are not willing to finance the plan. A deal on deforestation – a sizeable global warming factor – is considered a key component of the larger pact.

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