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Monday, December 6th, 2010
Associated Press


Members of the group World Wildlife Fund stand around candles that form the shape of the earth to protest the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico, Sunday Dec. 5, 2010. According to the UN weather agency, 2010 is almost certain to rank among the three hottest years on record, and the 2001-2010 decade is undoubtedly the warmest period since the beginning of weather records in 1850. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

CANCUN, Mexico (AP) — More countries are expected this week to pledge specific actions to limit carbon emissions over the next decade, in what would be very good news for arduous negotiations on a climate-change agreement, host country Mexico said.

Newly arrived government ministers began applying political weight Monday to talks being held in Cancun, as the 193-nation U.N. climate conference moves into its decisive final week.

The meeting hopes to restore credibility to the talks after the last summit in Copenhagen a year ago, which failed to agree on any binding measures to rein in emissions of global-warming gases. A nonbinding political document, the Copenhagen Accord, outlined important compromises among key players, including the United States and China, but its adoption was blocked by a handful of dissident nations.

In subsequent months, however, 140 countries declared their endorsement of the accord, and 85 of them made specific pledges for reducing carbon emissions, or at least limiting their growth, by 2020.

Mexico's deputy foreign minister, Juan Manuel Gomez Robledo, said more countries had said in private consultations that they intended to add their pledges to the list of 85. Some countries that already have submitted pledges may take "additional measures," he said. He declined to name any country, but said they included both industrial and developing nations.

"There has been a clear message from some parties, and that would certainly be very good news," he told reporters Sunday.

On Monday, Bolivia complained that the integrity of the negotiations had been undermined by recent Wikileaks disclosures of confidential diplomatic messages indicating the United States was using economic aid to pressure countries on their climate-change policies.

An activist from Via Campesina, an international movement of peasants, demonstrates during a protest against the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2010. According to the UN weather agency, 2010 is "almost certain" to rank among the three hottest years on record, and the 2001-2010 decade is undoubtedly the warmest period since the beginning of weather records in 1850. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

Bolivia's delegation chief, Pablo Solon, called the U.S. practice described in the leaks as "blackmail" meant to force unwilling countries to accept its positions.

"We are not sold to anyone. We are not bought. We are not scared," Solon told reporters.

Bolivia led the group of mainly Latin American countries that blocked the adoption of the Copenhagen Accord. The U.S. has said publicly it would earmark climate aid funds to countries that signed on to the accord.

The Cancun talks seek to produce decisions on establishing a "green fund" to help poorer nations rein in greenhouse gases and to adapt their economies and infrastructure to a changing climate; an agreement making it easier for developing nations to obtain patented green technology from advanced nations; and pinning down more elements of a system for compensating developing countries for protecting their forests.

What will not be resolved at Cancun is the core dispute in the climate talks: fixing legally binding targets for nations to reduce greenhouse gases emitted by industry, vehicles and agriculture.

The pledges in the Copenhagen Accord are purely voluntary, and are insufficient to meet the goal scientists have set to limit the average global temperature to 2 degrees Celsius (3.8 Fahrenheit) above what it was before the industrial age began.

Gomez Robledo said the side issues of funding, technology and forestry "are almost ripe," and negotiators will work on disputed details over the next five days.

The conference president, Mexican Foreign Secretary Patricia Espinosa, told the delegations Sunday she had assigned teams of two ministers, one each from a wealthy and developing country, to focus on specific issues and give political guidance to the negotiators.

A man looks at an exhibit on climate change during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico, Wednesday Dec. 1 , 2010. The host nation of the U.N. climate talks in Cancun has called the U.S. pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions "modest," while praising other non-binding offers made by India and China. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

The most troublesome issue — and one that could still undermine even the limited ambition envisioned for Cancun — was whether industrial countries would agree to further emissions cuts as spelled out in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

Under Kyoto, 37 nations and the European Union agreed to cut greenhouse gases by a total of 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. Those countries are on target to meet their obligations, but some of them have balked about accepting more mandatory cuts after 2012.

Japan caused an uproar last week when it flatly said it will refuse to go along, as long as all major emitting countries do not have similar obligations. The United States was assigned a reduction target, but it rejected the treaty. Developing countries, including China India, were excluded from Kyoto's strictures.

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten , or redistributed.

Last changed on: 12/6/2010

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change For more about the Climate Change talks in Cancun.

SustainUS U.S. Youth for sustainable development.

Via Campesina La Via Campesina is an international movement of peasants advocating sustainable agriculture.

350.org An international campaign that's building a movement to unite the world around solutions to the climate crisis.

The MY HERO Project MY HERO Youth Reporter Slater Jewell-Kemker documents the people and issues behind the environmental movement.

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