Climate talks inch ahead toward modest deals

CANCUN, MEXICO (AP) - Weary delegates from almost 200 nations worked past their deadline and into Friday night to cobble together final decisions wrapping up the U.N. climate conference, small steps to revive the faltering, yearslong talks to guard the Earth against planetary warming.

No grand compact mandating deep cuts in global warming gases was in the cards. Instead, the two-week session focused on a proliferation of secondary issues _ a “Green Climate Fund” to help poor nations, deforestation, technology sales and other matters.

The cross-cutting interests of rich and poor nations, tropical and temperate, oil producers, desperate islanders and comfortable continental powers, all combined once more to tie up the annual negotiating session of environment ministers past its 6 p.m. scheduled finish.

In late afternoon, after many hours behind closed doors at a sprawling beachside resort hotel, leaders of the negotiating groups submitted the latest, slimmed-down versions of the main proposed texts for review.

“We are almost through this process,” Mexican Foreign Secretary Patricia Espinosa, the conference president, told delegates. “Let’s go back to our work and let us finish as soon as possible.”

Negotiators earlier reported progress on the key issue of the Green Climate Fund, which is to aid developing nations obtain clean-energy technology for cutting their own greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to potentially damaging climate change _ by shifting agricultural practices, for example, and building seawalls against the rise of warming seas.

In the “Copenhagen Accord” that emerged from last year’s climate summit in the Danish capital, richer nations promised $100 billion for such a fund by 2020.

“There is a consensus that we set up a climate fund,” Bangladesh’s state minister for environment, Mohammed Hasan Mahmud, reported Friday. Details of the fund’s oversight were left to post-Cancun negotiations, and the eventual sources of the financing were not identified.

A U.N. advisory panel had suggested placing levies of some kind on the fuel or emissions of airlines and merchant shipping, but such a proposal was dropped during the negotiations here.

Mahmud lamented that once again a hoped-for overarching pact to slash global emissions was being deferred at least another year, to the 2011 conference in Durban, South Africa.

“I doubt if the Durban (conference) will deliver the desired level of results if the negotiations go the way we have been going through here,” he said.

Bolivian chief negotiator Pablo Solon was more sharply critical of the eleventh hour proposed text: “We have before us a document of `take it or take it.’”

Other issues that faced intense last-minute negotiation:

_Setting up a global structure to make it easier for developing nations to obtain patented technology for clean energy and climate adaptation.

_Pinning down more elements of a complex, controversial plan to compensate poorer nations for protecting their climate-friendly forests.

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