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Climate Talks ‘Too Complicated,’ EU Says as UN Negotiations Slow

Dec. 6 (Bloomberg) -- The European Union said it’s worried United Nations climate talks in Mexico are making slow progress and that ministers need to step up the pace of negotiations to get an agreement on limiting global warming this week.

“The texts are still much too long,” Connie Hedegaard, the European Commissioner in charge of climate policy, said in Cancun, Mexico, referring to UN documents published this weekend outlining possible goals for the meeting of 193 nations. “There are much too many options. They are still too complicated.”

Countries must “step up” the pace of negotiations and be willing to compromise on key sticking points, she said today. The first week of the talks that started on Nov. 29 were marred by a rift between richer and poorer nations over how to ensure reductions in carbon dioxide emissions after the current limits in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol expire in 2012.

Bolivia today reiterated its concerns that the negotiators aren’t proposing deeper emissions cuts this week and that wording about the “rights of nature” have been left out of the proposed conclusions for the meeting that is due to end Dec. 10.

Bolivia’s concerns are important because under the UN rules, which require consensus, any party to the talks can hold up progress by making a firm objection. The nation’s president, Evo Morales, will speak to the conference on Dec. 9.

“The proposals by Bolivia about other approaches to decrease the emissions of greenhouse gases have not been developed,” said Pablo Solon, chief climate envoy for Bolivia. “The only one discussed is a market option. The rights of nature have been omitted.”

New Commitments

China, India and Brazil say new commitments to limit emissions from developed nations are essential to keep the talks on track. Japan, Russia and Canada are resisting new pledges under the Kyoto treaty. The U.S. never signed the accord and remains outside that track of the negotiations.

The EU, which has committed to cutting emissions 20 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels, is pushing to make all emissions-reduction goals part of the official UN process. The cuts were pledged as part of a non-binding agreement reached in Copenhagen last year after talks for a new treaty collapsed.

“We can’t leave Cancun empty-handed,” Hedegaard said in a news conference.

A UN text released this weekend sketched out a compromise between richer and poorer nations on limiting greenhouse gases. It calls on the world to limit temperature increases since the 1700s to “below 2 degrees Celsius.” Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Morales of Bolivia will be among 25 leaders participating in the talks this week.

Stall in Copenhagen

Since negotiations in Copenhagen broke down last year without a new legally binding agreement, UN officials have scaled back the scope of the talks. This year’s effort may produce a package of measures to protect forests, verify emissions reductions and channel $100 billion a year in aid to nations struggling to adapt to climate change.

The rich-nation targets in the 1997 Kyoto negotiation text range from 15 percent below 1990 levels in 2020 to 50 percent below by 2017, according to a document on the website of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The EU has said it will boost reduction target to 30 percent if other countries also strengthen their commitments.

“What we need is that others also move,” Hedegaard said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kim Chipman in Cancun, Mexico at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at

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