Little progress at climate talks
BONN, Germany -- Environment ministers from around the world are struggling to salvage the Kyoto climate agreement despite the lack of a clear breakthrough.
"We have no time to lose. It is a matter of political will, a matter of giving and taking in the remaining days," EU Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom said on Friday, the second day of the Bonn talks.
"We are in a rescue operation of the Kyoto process."
German Environment Minister Juergen Trittin said lines of contact were being prepared so the ministers could refer matters up to their leaders at the Group of Eight (G8) summit in Genoa, Italy, if still deadlocked by Sunday.
Much of Thursday was taken up with procedural discussions -- and criticism of the U.S, the world's biggest polluter, which is refusing to sign up to the accord to cut so-called greenhouse gas emissions.
European ministers have been leading efforts to salvage the 1997 agreement since U.S. President George W. Bush said the required cuts would harm the U.S. economy too much.
Signing up the heavily industrialised Japan, which has sent mixed signals about its intentions, is now seen as important, as the treaty needs the backing of 55 countries -- representing 55 percent of the industrialised world's emissions -- to go into force.
Before the conference, Japan, together with Russia, Australia and Canada, suggested a number of compromises loosening controls on carbon emissions, but CNN's Bettina Luscher said the European Union was guarding against the pact becoming too watered down.
Belgian's secretary of state for the environment, Olivier Deleuze said that the first goal was to reach a deal -- but that in the longer-term the European Union wants to bring the United States back into the treaty, reported The Associated Press.
Luscher said as the talks between the delegates from 178 nations entered a second day there had been little progress beyond the small print of procedures to lead discussions.
Washington has stated firmly that its position will not change, and is in the process of drafting its own plan for halting global warming.
Paula Dobriansky, the head of the U.S. delegation, was quoted by AP saying: "While we do not believe the Kyoto Protocol is sound public policy for the United States, we do not intend to prevent others from going ahead with the treaty, so long as they do not harm legitimate U.S. interests."
Targets set in the Kyoto pact call on industrial countries to cut carbon dioxide and other gas emissions by an average 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.
The current meeting is the second attempt to find a compromise following the collapse of supposedly make-or-break talks in The Hague in November.
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