UN: No Climate Deal Until 2011

New agreement committing nations around the world to curb greenhouse gas emissions is unlikely before end of 2011, two years later than originally envisioned.

AMSTERDAM (AP) -- A new legal agreement committing nations around the world to curb greenhouse gas emissions is unlikely to be completed until the end of 2011, two years later than originally envisioned, the top U.N. climate official said Wednesday.

Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the U.N. climate change secretariat, said countries need to restore confidence in U.N. negotiations following the dismal results of the Copenhagen summit in December, which ended in a vague agreement of principles and a pledge of finances for poor countries most threatened by climate change.

"There was a great deal of frustration at end the end of the Copenhagen conference in terms of process," de Boer said in a conference call with reporters from his office in Bonn, Germany.

The next annual conference in Cancun, Mexico, beginning in November should get negotiations "back on track" among the 194 participating nations, with the aim of agreeing on the main elements that could be enshrined in a binding agreement a year later in South Africa, de Boer said.

"My hope is that Cancun will deliver what I had hoped Copenhagen would deliver," said de Boer, who is resigning July 1 after nearly three years in office.

Negotiators will convene in Bonn next week for the first time since 120 heads of state and government met in the Danish capital. The weekend conference was expected to do little more than set a timetable for several more preparatory conferences leading up to the Cancun conference.

Formal U.N. negotiations were set in motion in 2007 to reach a deal within two years that would succeed the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which set targets for 37 industrial countries to cut carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions blamed for raising the Earth's average temperature.

Scientists warn that global warming will cause disruptions in agriculture, increase water shortages and could lead to a dramatic rise in sea levels and coastal flooding if the arctic ice sheets melt.

The Copenhagen Accord, a three-page deal salvaged in the closing hours of the summit, set a target of limiting global temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels, but didn't say how that should be achieved. It pledged $3 billion over the next three years for poor countries to adapt to climate change and asked countries to submit pledges for curbing their carbon emissions.

On Wednesday, the U.N. climate secretariat released its official report on the Copenhagen conference and listed voluntary commitments from 75 industrial and developing countries to reduce or limit the growth of their emissions by 2020. The report said those countries represented 80 percent of global emissions from energy use.

De Boer said the commitments fell short of the cuts needed to keep the Earth's temperature from rising more than 2 degrees.

In London on Wednesday, Prime Ministers Gordon Brown of Britain and Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia were chairing the first meeting of the U.N. Climate Finance Group, which will discuss ways to raise and distribute the short-term financing promised in Copenhagen for countries that need to quickly adapt to changing climate conditions.

The Copenhagen Accord, brokered by President Barack Obama, also envisioned $100 billion dollars annually from 2020 to fight climate change and its impacts on developing nations.

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