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UN Climate Conference in Bali Reported Nearing Agreement


Officials say an agreement is close to being reached at the U.N. Climate Change talks being held on the Indonesian island of Bali. As VOA's Nancy-Amelia Collins reports, officials have been trying to break a U.S.-EU deadlock over greenhouse gas emission targets.

The U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer told journalists late Friday evening the conference was on "the brink of an agreement" and appeared to be heading towards a compromise solution. Officials have been trying to draft a document that would launch negotiations to replace the Kyoto Protocol which expires in 2012.

"People are listening to each other very carefully and my impressions from having been in the meeting rooms is that the U.S. is showing a great deal of flexibility, is trying to be sensitive to the positions of others, and is as keen as everybody else to make sure that it walks away from here with a deal that includes the United States," De Boer said.

The European Union, along with delegates from most of the 190 nations at the U.N. conference, want greenhouse gas reductions of between 25 to 40 percent by 2020 included in the agreement, but the United States, backed by Japan and Canada, says setting reduction targets will prejudge the outcome of the negotiations."

The United States is the only major industrialized country to reject the Kyoto accord, which requires 37 industrialized nations to cut greenhouse gases 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

De Boer says there is tremendous international pressure for an agreement to be reached in Bali and the United States must be part of that agreement.

"I think that everyone here is trying to do a deal that does include the United States," he said. "That's the purpose of the exercise here. To walk away from here with a sort of unborn Kyoto two in the sense of launching another process which the U.S., doesn't want to be part of, I don't think anybody here really thinks that makes sense."

The U.N.'s climate scientists published a series of landmark reports this year saying the world will face catastrophe - rising seas, severe droughts, the extinction of plants and animals - unless greenhouse gas emissions are reduced to be between 25 to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.

The U.N. panel of scientists, along with former U.S. vice president and long-time environmentalist Al Gore won this year's Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to warn the world on the severe consequences of global warming. The U.N. talk in Bali are expected to wrap up by Saturday.

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