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Copenhagen Accord Climate Pledges Too Weak: UN

by Alister Doyle and Gerard Wynn

More than 110 countries have signed up to the Copenhagen Accord on fighting global warming, but the United Nations said on Wednesday their pledges for cutting greenhouse gas emissions were insufficient.

The first formal U.N. list of backers of the deal, compiled since the text was agreed at an acrimonious 194-nation summit in December, showed support from all top emitters led by China, the United States, the European Union, Russia, India and Japan.

A man selling brooms rides his bicycle past abandoned buildings in front of a chimney billowing smoke from a nearby coal-burning power station in Beijing March 10, 2010. (Credit: Reuters/David Gray) Backers also included small emitters from Albania to Zambia.

The accord, which falls short of a binding treaty sought by many nations, sets a goal of limiting global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times. But it leaves each nation to set its own targets for 2020.

Yvo de Boer, outgoing head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat which compiled the list, said pledges for cutting greenhouse gas emissions so far fell short of that goal.

"It is clear that while the pledges on the table are an important step toward the objective of limiting growth of emissions, they will not in themselves suffice to limit warming to below 2 degrees Celsius," he said in a statement.

An April 9-11 U.N. meeting next week in Bonn, Germany is the first since Copenhagen and will try to pick up the pieces from a fractious summit in December often deadlocked on procedure.

The overall aim of the talks is to agree a successor to the existing Kyoto Protocol after 2012 and de Boer said the accord could help formal negotiations toward a successful outcome in Mexico, which will stage the next U.N. climate conference of the world's environment ministers in Cancun in late 2010.

A final deal may not be sealed until the following U.N. ministerial climate meeting at the end of 2011 in South Africa, he told reporters. One cause for delay is that U.S. carbon capping legislation is stalled.

The accord had agreed to raise $100 billion climate aid annually by 2020, and $30 billion from 2010-2012 to help poor nations slow emissions growth and cope with impacts such as floods, droughts and rising sea levels.

MEXICO

More than 80 countries had not yet supported the deal but could still do so, de Boer said. Those countries included loud critics of the Copenhagen summit such as Bolivia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba and Sudan.

Other nations that stayed off the list included OPEC countries such as Saudi Arabia, which fears a loss of oil revenues if the world shifts to renewable energies, and some small island states such as Tuvalu which fear rising sea levels and want more aggressive action.

The Secretariat said that 112 parties -- 111 nations and the European Union -- had so far signed up for the accord. The list of 111 includes the 27 individual EU states.

It said 41 rich nations submitted goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and 35 developing countries outlined plans to limit growth of emissions. Together they account for more than 80 percent of world emissions from energy use.

The Copenhagen Accord was merely "noted" by the 194-nation summit after objections by a handful of developing nations. The United Nations then asked all countries to say if they wanted to be listed or not. Wednesday's list is the result.

Many emerging economies were initially reluctant to sign up after the deal failed to gain universal support, even though the original text was worked out by U.S. President Barack Obama with leaders of states such as China, India, Brazil and South Africa.

Many developing nations want the 1992 U.N. Climate Convention to guide U.N. negotiations on a new treaty, arguing that it spells out more clearly that rich nations must take the lead. Washington, by contrast, favors the Copenhagen Accord.

The accord would not form a blueprint for a new treaty, de Boer said.

(Editing by Jon Hemming)

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