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Progress in Climate Talks “Patchy, Much Too Slow,” EU Says

The progress of climate talks in China, the last formal gathering before a global summit due to begin next month, was “very patchy and much too slow,” a senior European Union official said.

“The gap between the texts on the table at the end of the Tianjin session and the decisions we need to reach in Cancun is still very big,” EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said in an e-mailed statement late yesterday. “A lot of work will be needed over the coming weeks to bridge this gap.”

The United Nations conference in Cancun, Mexico, which starts on Nov. 29, should “result in a balanced package of decisions” aimed at fighting climate change, Hedegaard said.

The 27-nation EU wants to be a leader in the fight against global warming. It is on schedule to meet its 2020 goal of cutting greenhouse gases by 20 percent from 1990 levels and has said it’s ready to move to 30 percent if other countries follow suit.

It stopped short of setting a more ambitious goal at a global climate summit in Copenhagen last year, citing a lack of comparable effort by the U.S. and China.

In Copenhagen, negotiators failed to reach a binding deal setting a framework for greenhouse-gas reduction for when the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. Instead, they settled for a political accord calling for $100 billion a year by 2020 in climate financing for poor nations. They also vowed to stop global temperature increases at 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than pre-industrial times.

Climate Finance

The talks in Tianjin, which ended yesterday, brought some progress on climate finance, technology cooperation, tropical deforestation and adaptation to climate change, Hedegaard said.

Still, there has been “insufficient progress in translating key elements of the Copenhagen Accord into UN texts,” she said. “The lack of progress on these issues, and signs of backtracking on the Copenhagen Accord by certain parties, gives us cause for concern about the balance of the Cancun package.”

Hedegaard said the EU will strive to help ensure the summit in Mexico has a positive outcome and becomes a basis for an “ambitious” and legally binding climate agreement “as soon as possible.”

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