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“I have advised my Cabinet, literally I’ve said to them, `Assume minimum rationally will prevail,’” Groser said. “Then I will come back after this meeting here and make a recommendation as to what unilateral figure we can do.”

Negotiators in Doha are also locked in disputes over how to help poor countries switch to renewable energy and adapt to shifts in climate that may damage health, agriculture and economies in general.

China and other developing countries demand that rich countries present a “road map” describing how they will scale up climate financing to $100 billion annually by 2020, a pledge they made at a climate summit in Copenhagen three years ago.

With budgets under pressure from the world financial crisis, rich countries are unwilling to put money on the table in Doha, but they say such financing will become available eventually. They note that they have delivered the $30 billion promised as “fast-start financing” in Copenhagen, though some aid groups say much of it came from loans or previously pledged foreign aid simply relabeled as climate money.

As many of these issues are linked to each other, failure to agree on one could stall progress on others, meaning the Doha talks could end without agreement on anything.

The core climate problem is also receiving attention, and the conclusion is not positive.

A host of reports before and during the talks have underlined that the gap between what science indicates is needed to address climate change and what governments are actually doing is growing wider. One report, by the United Nations Environment Program, showed greenhouse emissions have risen 20 percent since 2000.

“We begin the final week of negotiations in Doha with the sober recognition that time is running out to prevent the loss of entire nations and other calamities in our membership and around the world,” a group of small island nations said in a joint statement Sunday.

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Karl Ritter can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/karl_ritter