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Small hopes for world progress on climate deal

Countries across the world will try to thrash out a set of basic steps to hold back global warming at United Nations talks next week.

The World Meteorological Organization yesterday (Wednesday) put out new evidence that concentrations of the main greenhouse gases have hit their highest level since pre-industrial times.

And 2010 is forecast to match 1998 or 2005 as the warmest year since records began in the 19th century, experts say.
Most countries have few hopes for next week’s talks in Mexico after US president Barack Obama and other world leaders failed to reach an agreement on measures to halt global-warming at last year’s UN talks in Copenhagen.

"I'm a little depressed about Cancun," said Al Gore, the climate campaigner and former US Vice President. "The problem is not going away, it's getting steadily worse."

Many are worried that the first climate treaty since 1992 may still be years away, especially in view of a stand-off between China and the United States, the top greenhouse gas emitters. "We have to take a few steps forward or there are people who are going to lose faith in the UN system," said Rajendra Pachauri, who heads the UN panel of climate scientists.

Earlier this week, The UN’s environment agency warned that emissions cuts countries had promised in a non-binding climate agreement last year fall short of what’s needed to avoid the worst consequences of global warming. Even if countries actually manage to meet the voluntary pledges they made in the so-called Copenhagen Accord, which will only count for 60 per cent of the emissions cuts needed to keep temperatures from rising less than 2 degrees Celsius it said.

The agency’s Achim Steiner called those pledges “a good first step," and noted that the gap can be filled with steeper emissions cuts. "There is a gap between the science and current ambition levels," he said. "But, what this report shows is that the options on the table right now in the negotiations can get us almost 60 per cent of the way there."

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on countries to meet their pledges and to try and make next week’s talks work. "There is no time to waste," he said. "By closing the gap between the science and current ambition levels, we can seize the opportunity to usher in a new era of low-carbon prosperity and sustainable development for all."
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