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Climate change

Warsaw climate conference finds weak compromise

(from left) UNFCCC Secretary Christiana Figueres, Polish Environment Minister and COP19 President Marcin Korolec, and COP spokesman Eric Hall (EPA photo)

(from left) UNFCCC Secretary Christiana Figueres, Polish Environment Minister and COP19 President Marcin Korolec, and COP spokesman Eric Hall (EPA photo)

Warsaw - The UN climate negotiators found a compromise Saturday that keeps future talks alive, but leaves vague the responsibilities of countries in fulfilling climate guidelines.



Negotiators agreed to a roadmap for a world climate agreement that would be completed at a meeting in Paris in 2015, but put off decisions on many of the most important points.

Developed countries had squared off with emerging economies over the level of liability to be incurred by advanced states versus developing states in curbing green house gas emissions.

In the end, a compromise among the 194 member states of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change was based on a single word with the sides agreeing to use the less definitive term, contributions, rather than the more binding, commitments.

"The paper said the goals of fast developing countries have legal force. How binding that is however remains open," said Christoph Bals of the organization Germanwatch.

The delegates also agreed to the so-called Warsaw Mechanism, that sets out a means for developing countries to receive compensation for losses and damages due to climate change. In final negotiations, the mechanism was strengthened at the urging of developing nations.

However they did not set a binding agreement on financing, stopping short of providing concrete interim goals on timing or financial contributions as developing countries had urged.

Disappointment in the results was expressed by environmental and aid groups.

Oxfam director Winnie Byanyima said the text on the financing of green house gas reductions was nothing more than "an exercise in linguistic yoga."

"For the third year in a row the (member) countries have found a new way to say absolutely nothing," she said, adding that the poorest nations and those with experiencing the most severe effects of climate change would be the worst hit financially.

The member states also agreed on a paper that defines under which conditions poor countries can receive money to help them protect their forests.

"The decision is a good framework for the protection of the forest, its residents, and biodiversity," said forest expert Kristin Gerber from Germanwatch.

The US, Norway and Britain also pledged 280 million euros (379 million dollars) for the forest protection project. Germany pledged an additional 12 million euros (16.3 million dollars) towards the protection programme.

Carbon-dioxide-absorbing trees are a key factor in capturing emissions before they rise into the atmosphere, and massive global deforestation has contributed to carbon emissions in the atmosphere, experts say.

The two-week-long Warsaw meetings were expected to resolve conflicts so that a new agreement can be concluded in 2015 in Paris and go into effect by 2020 to replace the Kyoto Protocol.




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