Friday, October 2, 2009

UN chief warns of 'glacial pace' in climate talks

STOCKHOLM — UN chief Ban Ki-moon warned Thursday climate talks were moving at a "glacial pace" and urged the European Union to take the lead ahead of a key Copenhagen summit in December.

"I have a deep concern about the glacial pace of progress in those (climate) negotiations," he said.

Speaking in Sweden, which currently holds the EU presidency, Ban said members of the bloc had the right qualities to act as a "locomotive" and drag other countries at a faster pace in negotiations.

"The European Union's role will be critically important. The European Union can play a role as a locomotive," the UN secretary general urged.

Europe had "the most capacity in terms of finance, in terms of technology, in terms of political will", he said at a press conference with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt at Uppsala University north of Stockholm.

"There are always countries who are reluctant, or who are not ready, and you must push them and pull them forward," he urged.

Asked about the possibility of a further climate summit before the Copenhagen meeting, Reinfeldt said he did not rule it out.

"I don't think we should rule out anything at the moment," the premier said, adding he would be interested in going to another meeting if it was thought necessary.

The EU has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent from 1990 levels and has said it could increase the target to 30 percent if an international agreement was reached in Copenhagen.

Such an agreement seems unlikely, however, as the United Nations itself has accepted that international talks on climate change currently taking place in Bangkok are not moving fast enough.

Disagreements have also emerged among EU member states on a proposed carbon tax on imports from regions with poor environmental standards, threatening the bloc's common stance on the matter.

The December 7-18 talks in Copenhagen, under the 192-nation UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), aim to craft a post-2012 pact for curbing the heat-trapping gases that drive global warming.

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