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UN chief urges world powers to end climate bickering

December 23, 2009 - UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appealed for world powers to make a new effort to secure a legally binding climate deal next year amid new diplomatic wrangling over the failure of the Copenhagen summit.

China hit back at Britain over claims that Beijing had "hijacked" the Copenhagen negotiations while Brazil's president blamed US leader Barack Obama for the accord.

With scientists warning of the growing threat of drought, floods, storms and rising sea levels, Ban acknowledged international disappointment over the summit accord on restraining rising temperatures when he returned to the UN headquarters.

"I am aware that the outcome of the Copenhagen conference, including the Copenhagen Accord, did not go as far as many would have hoped," Ban told reporters.

"Nonetheless they represent a beginning, an essential beginning," he added.

Ban said "the leaders were united in purpose, but they were not united in action," and pressed them "to directly engage in achieving a global legally binding climate change treaty in 2010." The UN boss said he would set up a high-level panel on development and climate change early in 2010.

The Copenhagen agreement was assembled by leaders of the United States, China, India, Brazil, South Africa and major European nations, after it became clear the 194-nation summit was in danger of failure.

It promised $100 billion for poor nations that risk bearing the brunt of the global warming fallout and set a commitment to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

The summit outcome has been widely criticised however, with recriminations among many of the participants.

A dispute between Britain and China worsened on December 22.

Claims by Britain's climate change minister Ed Miliband that China had blocked a deal in Copenhagen were aimed at "escaping obligations and fomenting discord" among developing countries, China's foreign ministry said.

Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told state news agency Xinhua that China refuted claims made by Miliband in an article in Monday's Guardian newspaper.

Miliband wrote that China vetoed attempts to give legal force to the accord reached at the climate summit. It also blocked an agreement on reductions in global emissions, he said.

"We did not get an agreement on 50% reductions in global emissions by 2050 or on 80% reductions by developed countries," Miliband wrote.

"Both were vetoed by China, despite the support of a coalition of developed and the vast majority of developing countries." China's foreign ministry slammed the comments. "Such an attack was made in order to shirk the obligations of developed countries to their developing counterparts and foment discord among developing countries," Jiang was quoted saying. "But the attempt was doomed to fail." China stuck out at the summit against pressure to allow international verification of carbon emission cutting efforts.

Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva blamed the United States for the failure of the talks, saying Obama was not prepared to make sufficient emissions cuts.

"The United States is proposing a reduction of four% from the date fixed by the Kyoto Protocol (1990). That is too little," Lula said on his weekly radio program.

This led other countries to avoid their "commitments to the objectives (of reducing carbon dioxide emissions) and financial commitments," Lula added.

Brazil pledged voluntary carbon emission cuts of 36 to 39% based on projected 2020 output and urged rich countries to help poorer countries foot the bill.

Obama did not offer deeper emissions cuts than the United States has already put on the table, or specific figures on how much Washington will pay to bankroll the climate change fight.

Washington has already said it will not budge on its offer of curbing US carbon emissions by 17% from 2005 levels by 2020--less than EU offers but as much as the US political climate will bear.

Hopes for a new deal now rest on a summit in Mexico City in December 2010 which could come into effect from 2013, after the current Kyoto Protocol expires.

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