( AFP ) - The worldwide forum on climate change marked the 10th anniversary of the Kyoto Protocol on Tuesday, but the party mood was marred by problems forging a new pact to tackle global warming.
The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was to unveil a huge birthday cake to commemorate the moment on December 11, 1997 when the world's most ambitious environment treaty was born in the Japanese city of Kyoto.
Two celebration parties were to be staged in the evening, one by Japanese green groups, and the other by the UNFCCC.
The Kyoto Protocol took effect on February 16, 2005 after gruelling negotiations to complete its rulebook on curbing greenhouse-gas emissions.
But, in its present form, it will do nothing to stem the surge in this pollution, which scientists say is badly damaging the Earth's climate system.
Worse droughts and floods, rising sea levels and more violent storms lie just decades away, they warn.
The December 3-14 forum on the Indonesian resort island of Bali aims at accelerating cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions after 2012, when the protocol's current roster of pledges runs out, and at beefing up help for poor countries in the path of the climate-change juggernaut.
If all goes according to plan, the conference of some 190 countries will wind up with a "Bali Roadmap" that will set the parameters for two years of further negotiations leading to the new accord.
Late Monday, the marathon talks notched up their first significant success with a decision on how to administer an Adaptation Fund to help vulnerable nations, delegates said.
The Fund will be financed by a levy of two percent on transactions under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), a piece of Kyoto machinery by which rich countries get carbon credits, which they can offset against their emissions targets, provided they invest in clean-energy projects in poor countries.
The Global Environment Facility (GEF) will be administer the Fund, and the World Bank will serve as its trustee. Oversight will be provided by a 16-member board drawn from the five UN regions and representing rich and poor Kyoto parties alike.
The Adaptation Fund is seen as a key weapon in the effort to bolster the defences of poor countries that lack the money, technology and human resources to cope with climate change.
With the CDM emerging as a Kyoto success story, money from its activities could mean the Fund's coffers could reach as much as 500 million dollars by 2012.
But on the bigger picture of the Bali Roadmap, the talks were in trouble.
Glum negotiators were expecting many of the details to be hammered out by environment ministers, whose meeting from Wednesday to Friday will climax the conference.
A previous commitment by Kyoto's industrialised countries, which sketched the "ambition" of reducing their carbon emissions by between 25 and 40 percent by 2020 compared with 1990 levels, was weeded out in a new version of the text.
Similar text was under threat in a second document, this time from a group that includes the United States. Its chief delegate, Harlan Watson, told reporters on Monday that such figures would "pre-empt" negotiations.
Green activists say that these changes, if endorsed by the ministers, could have a crippling effect on the future talks on the post-2012 treaty.
At a stroke, it would ease pressure on the two big emitters, the United States and China, to make concessions of their own, and it would undercut expert opinion that a major early cut in greenhouse gases is needed within the next decade or so.
Thelma Krug, a negotiator with the Brazilian delegation, said it was vital for industrial countries to make a clear and meaningful offer.
"If they are not showing the willingness, matters start to became very complicated. If nobody shows the willingness to deal with the reduction of carbon emissions to a manageable level, then what are we doing here?" she said to AFP.
The Bali talks take place against a backdrop of ever-darker scientific warnings about climate change yet also growing public and political awareness of the peril.
The issue's profile has grow rapidly this year, capped by the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize on Monday to climate campaigner Al Gore and the UN's paramount scientific body on global warming, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).