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Monday, 23 July, 2001, 05:38 GMT 06:38 UK
Final push to save climate talks
Bonn protesters
Outside the conference hall, protesters are having a ball
By BBC News Online's Environment correspondent Alex Kirby in Bonn

Delegates to the climate treaty talks here have worked through the night to secure a compromise, still without success.

Dutch Environment Minister Jan Pronk
Pronk: "We really have to do the business"
The conference president, Dutch Environment Minister Jan Pronk, says he is convinced agreement is possible.

If not, Mr Pronk says, there will not be enough support for the treaty to enter into force.

"We really have to do the business," he said.

Mr Pronk tabled his draft late on Saturday. The main disagreement is over making sure that countries comply with the treaty, and setting penalties for those that do not.

If the next few hours show the disagreement can be resolved, delegates will then vote on the entire draft, opening the way for the treaty to be ratified by enough states to enter into force.

Reluctant acceptance

The European Union, one of the main negotiating blocs, has agreed to accept the draft reluctantly, for the sake of finalising the Kyoto Protocol, the global climate treaty.

Bonn protester
Protesters have been keeping up the pressure
Some members of the G77 group of developing countries were unhappy with the Pronk plan's provisions for financing their adaptation to climate change.

But the country whose support for the compliance section of the draft remains out of reach is Japan.

If Japan and Russia - two major polluters - do not support it, the chances of Kyoto being ratified by enough states to enter into force will be vanishingly slim.

Failure risk

The European Union has been pushing hard for acceptance of the compromise.

German Environment Minister Juergen Trittin
Juergen Trittin: Concessions could lead to failure
German Environment Minister Juergen Trittin warned that further concessions could "make the Bonn conference and the Kyoto Protocol a failure".

The US, the world's largest producer of the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, has already rejected the 1997 protocol.

The talks are trying to thrash out the details for implementing the pollution-reduction commitments made at Kyoto - notably a 5.2% reduction in global emissions of six greenhouse gases by 2012, relative to 1990 levels.

The latest paper includes generous allowances for the use of forests and farmland to reduce the amount by which countries have to cut emissions.

In return they would have to give up the right to use investment in nuclear power as an alternative to cutting greenhouse gases.

The compromise plan would in fact cut greenhouse gases by less than half the amount set in the Kyoto Protocol, but many delegations think it better to accept a poor deal now than any of the worse ones they think will be available later.

The EU's lead negotiator, Belgian Energy Minister Olivier Deleuze, said Europe had "big problems" with the compromise document.

"But if it's a take it or leave it paper, in the spirit of flexibility and because we have talked enough about climate change over the last 10 years, Europe is ready to accept it."

Contention

Key issues of contention which appear to have been resolved include how strictly the protocol's requirements will be applied, and the extent to which the planting of pollution-absorbing trees - so-called carbon sinks - can be used to meet targets.

Disagreement regarding carbon sinks was one reason for the failure of The Hague talks on the Kyoto Protocol last November.

Argentine Environment Minister Raul Estrada said that he expected any deal in Bonn to be "partial".

"Anything which is not sorted out here will be handed on to Marrakesh," he said, referring to the next round of Kyoto talks, due in Morocco in late October.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Louise Bevan reports
"There is still a determination to reach a settlement"
The BBC's Tom Heap in Bonn
"A chance for the rest of the world to say we will not be blown off course by America"
Dr Ute Collier, World Wildlife Fund
"The biggest problem is Japan"
Mark Johnston, Friends of the Earth
"Kyoto can work without America"
See also:

22 Jul 01 | Sci/Tech
'Time running out' at climate talks
20 Jul 01 | Sci/Tech
Researchers have hot expectations
19 Jul 01 | Sci/Tech
Ministers bid to save climate treaty
15 Jul 01 | Europe
Storm clouds over climate talks
09 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Japan to press US on Kyoto
30 Mar 01 | Americas
Kyoto: Why did the US pull out?
22 Jul 01 | Sci/Tech
Climate compromise hangs in balance
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