Small climate deals forged outside int’l talks

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CANCUN, MEXICO (AP) - Walmart is going green in its Chinese factories. George Soros is exploring investments in the restoration of drained peatlands in Indonesia. Denmark is joining South Korea in a new fund to transform developing economies.

As delegates to the latest U.N. climate talks struggled to come up with a modest pair of global warming accords, governments, businesses and individuals working behind the scenes forged ahead with their own projects to cut emissions.

“Regardless of what happens in these negotiations, we shouldn’t be waiting. We should be doing practical things on the ground,” World Bank President Robert Zoellick said in an interview before the talks wound up Saturday.

Nearly 200 governments have been working for 20 years toward an all-encompassing treaty to constrain human influence on the climate through industrial pollution, vehicles and agriculture.

The Cancun Agreements, adopted to cheers and ovations early Saturday after two tortuous weeks of talks, created a Green Climate Fund to manage and disburse tens of billions of dollars a year, starting in 2020, for green development in poor countries.

The fund also will help developing nations adapt to climate change that already has occurred, through such methods as shifting to drought-resistant crops or building sea walls against rising ocean levels and storm surges.

The accords also create a new mechanism for giving green technology to developing states and set guidelines to compensate countries that are preserving their forests.

The ideal global treaty _ the one on which governments have not been able to agree during two decades of talks _ would set targets and create incentives for countries and industries to reduce emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases and invest in green economic growth.

Officials in both the public and private arena have decided not to wait for such a global agreement, instead taking the initiative on their own.

The sidelines of the Cancun conference provided a convenient platform to discuss old projects they were already working on as well as to unveil new ones, most of them valued at just a few million dollars.

There were actually “two summits” in Cancun, said Achim Steiner, head of the U.N. Environment Program, referring to both the official negotiations and project discussions outside the main conference.

“Individually, they may not sound like a lot … but the reality is, on the ground there is a tremendous groundswell of activity on climate change,” he told reporters.

While the conference was under way, Zoellick announced a new $100 million World Bank fund to help countries set up carbon-trading programs.

China, India, Chile and Mexico are among countries that have expressed an interest in drawing on the fund, he told The Associated Press.

“People get lost in the negotiating part of this,” he said. The fund is an example “of an ongoing innovation that doesn’t depend on treaty text.”

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