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Kyoto climate talks progress

Jan Pronk
Pronk: progress made  


BONN, Germany -- Progress has been made at climate talks in the German city of Bonn as delegates from about 180 countries try to salvage the Kyoto treaty.

Proposals were to be presented to the delegates late on Saturday after pressure to strike a deal came from leaders of the Group of Eight industrialised nations meeting in Italy.

The 1997 treaty aims to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by 5.2 percent of 1990 levels by 2012, and be ratified by 55 nations responsible for 55 percent of emissions worldwide to come into force.

"There is progress and a deal might be in the making," meeting chairman Jan Pronk told reporters after hearing the reports from four committees that drafted positions for the final negotiating document, Associated Press reported.

The latest proposals cover four vital areas: financing, emission credits for forests soaking up carbon dioxide, mechanisms for offsetting pollution reduction targets and sanctions for failing to meet those targets.

"The process is now speeding up," said Belgian envoy Olivier Deleuze. "We are waiting for comprehensive global text that can be put on the table for the last hours of negotiation."

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Though environment ministers and top officials were scheduled to negotiate through Sunday night, Deleuze indicated that if a deal were close, talks could continue another day -- but said an agreement cannot be delayed for future meetings.

The European Union was credited with flexibility in abandoning its quest for caps on credits for forest and agriculture land, which absorb emissions.

"The moment of truth is approaching," said Belgian envoy Olivier Deleuze, the head of the EU delegation.

Though environment ministers and top officials were scheduled to negotiate through Sunday night, Deleuze indicated that if a deal were close, talks could continue another day -- but said an agreement can't be delayed for future meetings.

"Negotiation seems like dancing the Tango, two steps forward, two steps back and suddenly three surprising steps forward," EU Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom said.

U.S. President George W. Bush renounced the signature by his predecessor, Bill Clinton, on the Kyoto treaty that set binding targets to reduce emissions of heat-trapping gases causing changes in the Earth's climate.

Bush said it was unfair and harmful to the U.S. economy.

At Saturday talks in Genoa, Italy, a Japanese official said "a very spirited" discussion of the Kyoto treaty was held.

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who said last month that Japan would not implement the Kyoto treaty without U.S. participation, has found himself pressured by both sides in the dispute.

French President Jacques Chirac, who was lobbied aggressively for other leaders to resist U.S. pressure, was beginning to rethink his own position, a French official told AP.






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