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Reports of record high greenhouse gas emissions and unprecedented carbon levels in the atmosphere added a sense of urgency to the talks.

The International Energy Agency said energy-related carbon emissions last year reached record levels _ more than 30 gigatons, or 5 percent more than the previous peak in 2008. Experts had predicted the financial crisis that caused a sharp dip in emissions in 2009 would continue in 2010.

The Paris-based agency said the figures were “a serious setback” to hopes of limiting the rise in the Earth’s average temperature to 2 degrees Celsius (3.8 F) above preindustrial levels.

Another report by the U.S. government monitoring station in Mauna Loa, Hawaii, recorded carbon levels in May of 395 parts per million, compared with 290 at the beginning of the industrial revolution 150 years ago. Scientists believe atmospheric concentration of carbon is trapping the Earth’s heat and causing it to gradually warm.

Also contributing to the apprehension was uncertainty over Japan’s future energy policy, and whether it will adhere to its pledge to reduce emissions by 25 percent after a March 11 tsunami triggered an ongoing nuclear disaster at its Fukushima Daii-ichi plant.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan last week reaffirmed its pledge to reduce emissions. But a Japanese delegate at the Bonn talks said the target was likely to be dropped.

Japan’s 120 million people produce 4 percent of the world’s emissions, and the country is considered a key player at the climate talks.