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Doha to host environment ministers for climate deal

REUTERS

LONDON/OSLO GREEN economic growth rather than strict targets for cutting greenhouse gases needs higher priority if the world is to reach a deal to fight climate change by a 2015 deadline.

Despite growing scientific evidence of a warming world, greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise and United Nations talks aimed at doing something about it are moving at a glacial pace.

Environment ministers will meet in Doha, Qatar, from November 26 for two weeks to start preparing the new accord.

Doha’s focus will be on deciding the countries involved and the length of an extension to the Kyoto Protocol.

Years of talks have failed to deliver a deal to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which set emissions targets for industrial nations. And despite agreement last year to set up a fund to raise aid for poor nations to help them cope with the effects of climate change, it took until last week just to decide who would sit on its governing panel.

“It’s going to be very difficult to reach a deal by 2015,”said Robert Stavins, director of the Harvard Environmental Economics Programme. He said new approaches were needed to permit economic growth that does not damage the environment.

Yvo de Boer, head of the UN climate change secretariat in2009 when a summit in Copenhagen tried and failed to reach a global deal, called for a re-think to allow greener economic growth, especially for poorer nations.

“The climate change negotiations have focused very heavily on targets, legallybinding regimes and consequences if you fail(to cut emissions),” he told Reuters.

“Not nearly enough focus has been on how we can create an architecture which allows countries to engage on climate change while at the same time growing their economies and lifting people out of poverty,” he said.

De Boer, who is now an advisor to accountancy firm KPMG, said there should be more focus on measures such as cleaner standards for power plants, steel mills, paper production or vehicles.

Aid to Mali, for instance, could be directed to steel mills to make them as efficient as those in Germany.

Late last year, a United Nations climate conference in South Africa agreed that countries would reach a new worldwide deal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2015 so it could come into force by 2020.

Until now, only developed nations have had targets to limit emissions under the Kyoto Protocol, which was due to expire at the end of this year but will now be extended.

Emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, rose 3.1 percent in 2011 to a record high, 2011 was the 11th warmest year since records began in the mid-19th century and the decade ended in 2010 was the warmest, UN data showed.

Mistrust between rich and poor nations, arguments about who is historically responsible for global warming and fears about the impact of cutting emissions - mainly from burning fossil fuels - on economic growth are among factors braking action on climate change and the increase in floods, heat waves, droughts,crop failures and rising seas that scientists say it will bring.

Under current climate goals, rich nations have promised to cut emissions by 2020 while developing nations led by China and India are seeking to slow the growth of their emissions.


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