The world’s climate negotiators have considered “deep cuts” in emissions to hold back climate change as part of a package that would pave the way for billions of dollars in aid to poor countries.
Sleep-deprived envoys from more than 190 countries were presented with a hard-fought draft agreement by host Mexico that also leaves open an extension of the landmark Kyoto Protocol, which runs out at the end of 2012.
Faced with scientists’ warnings that global warming is already taking a toll, the draft proposal calls for “urgent action” to cap temperature rises at no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
The proposal, to be considered by a full session of negotiators, “recognises that deep cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions are required according to science.”
After spending a sleepless night, the negotiators called off public events and met throughout the final scheduled day on Friday to iron out remaining disputes – chief among them the future of the Kyoto Protocol.
Faced with the growing prospect that a new climate treaty is distant, the European Union has led calls to extend the Kyoto Protocol.
Japan has adamantly opposed a new Kyoto round, pointing out that the treaty named after its ancient capital covers only 30 per cent of global emissions because China and the United States are not part of it.
Russia, a major exporter of carbon-intense fossil fuels, has backed Japan’s position, while Canada was also seen as a quiet supporter.
In a compromise, the proposed Cancun agreement would call for talks to set up a second period of the Kyoto Protocol but not oblige members of the treaty – such as Japan and Russia – to be part of the new round.
Japan and Russia “accept this language, while before they didn’t accept it,” said Brazilian negotiator Luiz Alberto Figueiredo, who support the Kyoto Protocol.
He added: “This is positive language which clearly states a second period of commitments” under the Kyoto Protocol.
The Kyoto Protocol makes no demands on emerging economies such as China and India to curb emissions.
China has refused to be subjected to a treaty, although India in a surprise shift in Cancun said it would at least consider binding action in the future.
The European Union, Japan and the United States have led pledges of $100 billion a year for poor nations, which many experts say are already suffering a rise in floods and drought as temperatures steadily mount.
A broader issue is just how wealthy nations would raise the money, with some negotiators advocating levies on airplane and shipping fuel.