Ghost of Copenhagen stalks Cancun climate talks
World climate talks in Cancun yesterday entered their final stretch beset by fears of a repeat of the failures that nearly wrecked the December 2009 Copenhagen summit.
Environment ministers began arriving in the Mexican resort city at the weekend to find themselves plunged into a mood soured by a row over the Kyoto Protocol and a logjam of inter-connected, unresolved issues.
After more talks among senior officials, the ministers on Tuesday get down to a four-day haggle, due to climax on Friday.
The outcome of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) gathering is unclear, despite 12 days of meetings and a low-ambition goal, say delegates.
"We're starting to have positions that are a bit stronger and a bit more radical," said France's climate negotiator Brice Lalonde, calling for a "spirit of compromise."
Wendel Trio, the international climate policy director for environmental group Greenpeace, said that so far countries had only spelled out their "most extreme positions."
"We need ministers to decide on a Third Way -- a solution that builds momentum toward sealing a strong climate deal next year," he said.
The 194 UNFCCC parties are under pressure to restore faith in the UN's bid to slow and then stop the juggernaut of climate change.
The hope is that Cancun will prepare the ground for curbs on man-made greenhouse gases and give the go-ahead to a fund to help channel hundreds of billions of dollars in aid towards poor, vulnerable countries.
This low-key approach contrasts with the vision of Copenhagen, where dreams of an overarching deal blessed by world leaders turned into a nightmare of squabbles and nit-picking.
Memories of that trauma have been renewed in Cancun.
Negotiators face the task of securing consensus in hugely detailed issues ranging from verifying emissions pledges and preventing deforestation to clean-technology transfer and nitty-gritty details about the future "Green Fund."
The fund could be the main source of aid to developing countries, promised in Copenhagen, that could reach 100 billion dollars a year by 2020. Poor countries want the UNFCCC to be the fund's manager, suspicious of US efforts for the World Bank to be in charge.
But an outcome in this negotiating arena is imperilled by a row in the conference's other forum, covering the future of the Kyoto Protocol.
"There are two pillars in this system," Chinese head negotiator Su Wei told AFP on Saturday.
"If one pillar is got rid of, you can imagine how the general architecture would look like and there will be certainly a collapse."