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Stalled on treaty, U.N. climate talks turn to money

CANCUN, Mexico — Facing another year without a global deal to curb climate change, the world's nations will spend the next two weeks debating how to mobilize money to cope with what's coming — as temperatures climb, ice melts, seas rise and the climate that nurtured man shifts in unpredictable ways.

Beginning today, 15,000 government delegates, environmentalists, business leaders, journalists and others will gather in the meeting halls of a steamy Caribbean resort for the annual conference of the 193-nation U.N. climate treaty.

They meet late in a year that may end tied for the hottest globally in 131 years of record-keeping.

The long-running U.N. negotiations have bogged down, unable to find consensus on a legally binding agreement requiring richer countries — and perhaps some poorer — to rein in emissions of gases.

The Republican takeover of the U.S. House and a recent historic shift in emissions — developing countries now produce more greenhouse gases than the old industrial world — all but guarantee the standoff will drag on, at least for another year or two.

"The world is waiting for fruitful negotiations," Mexico's environment secretary, Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada, said.

But what U.N. officials and others foresee here is "incremental progress," not an over arching deal, in two weeks of negotiation ending with three days of high-level bargaining among the world's environment ministers.

The developing world wants a significant deal on finance, a decision to establish a green fund to handle billions in aid dollars pledged by developed nations to help poorer countries adapt to a changing climate by, for example, building shoreline protection and installing clean energy sources.

In a nonbinding Copenhagen Accord reached by world leaders at last year's climate summit in the Danish capital, richer nations set a goal of $100 billion annually in such climate finance by 2020.

"There's been too little for small island developing states. It's a trickle," said Grenada's U.N. ambassador, Dessima Williams, chair of an alliance of island states.

For 13 years the U.S. has refused to join the rest of the industrialized world in the U.N. climate treaty's Kyoto Protocol, a binding pact to curb fossil-fuel emissions by modest amounts.

Stalled on treaty, U.N. climate talks turn to money 11/28/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 1:25pm]
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