New UN climate chief calls on US to act responsibly

New UN climate chief calls on US to act responsibly

The United Nations' new climate chief, Christiana Figueres, on Monday called on the US to "participate in a meaningful way" in climate change negotiations, at the opening of preparatory talks ahead of November's summit in Mexico, DPA reported.

"Whether the United States meets the pledge that it put in the Copenhagen accord via legislation or via regulation is an internal domestic affair of the United States and one which they need to solve," Figueres told journalists in the German city of Bonn.

At the international level, the head of the UN climate change panel said, "the US needs to participate in a meaningful way, and a way that is commensurate with its responsibility on climate."

Last year's UN climate change summit in Copenhagen ground to a halt after the US and China reached a weak bilateral deal that excluded the European Union and other countries.

In the Copenhagen accord, the US pledged to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 17 per cent below 2005 levels, by the year 2020. However the legislation needed to implement this target has stalled due to opposition in the US Senate.

Figueras was speaking at the opening of preparatory talks in Bonn, aimed at paving the way for this year's climate change summit in the Mexican city of Cancun.

Government representatives from around the world came to Bonn for five days of working group discussions, but held little hope of drawing up a replacement for the expiring Kyoto Protocol before the end of the year.

"Governments have the responsibility this year to take the next essential step in the battle against climate change," Figueras said, stressing that it was up to states to set the speed of progress.

The delegates in Bonn are tasked with devising realistic goals for the Cancun summit in November, including binding pledges on emissions cuts and ways of tracking such targets.

The challenge in Cancun was to "turn the politically possible into the politically irreversible," the UN climate chief added.

Negotiators are also due to discuss UN proposals on the so-called Kyoto gap, which is the likely period after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012 and before a successor agreement is in place.

Figueras took over last month from outgoing chief Yvo de Boer, who stepped down on July 1. The 53-year-old Costa Rican has worked on UN climate change policy for 15 years. dpa ba hm dms Author: Helen Maguire

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