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UN Climate Chief Contends Framework by Global Body Still Best Way Forward


The United Nations' climate chief is expressing optimism about the movement among various countries to discuss a global carbon-emissions treaty, less than two months after the Copenhagen conference failed to achieve such a deal.

Gatherings of the European Union, the Group of Eight, the G20 and other international bodies discussing climate change will not sideline the U.N. effort for a sweeping global environmental agreement. That is what the world body's climate chief, Yvo de Boer, has told reporters in New Delhi.

"I'm very happy countries are meeting in different constellations, formally and informally, in order to find a way forward. But at the end of the day, if you want a U.N. treaty to be the framework for an advance on climate change then, that will have to have happen in a formal setting, at the end of this year in Mexico," de Boer.

The Cancun conference, set for December, hopes to achieve what the Copenhagen meeting failed to accomplish - international consensus on how to combat rising carbon emissions.

The Danish conference attracted an unprecedented 120 heads of state and government. But delegates did not go beyond "taking note" of recognizing the need to limit temperature rises to two degrees Celsius above the average recorded in the pre-industrial era. The bare-bones deal was criticized as being drafted by only a few countries - namely the United States, China and other emerging powers - and not taking into consideration developing countries that would be most affected by climate change.

De Boer, the executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, is in India for an environmental conference beginning Friday that will include an informal, off-the-record meeting among some of the Copenhagen climate negotiators.

The Delhi Sustainable Development Summit is being somewhat overshadowed by its founder and embattled patron, on the defensive.

Indian Nobel Peace prize-winning scientist Rajendra Pachauri heads The Energy Research Institute organizing the Delhi gathering. He is also chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which has come under attack for sloppy science. The Indian scientist recently admitted an IPCC claim the Himalayan glaciers would melt by the year 2035 was erroneous.

U.N. climate chief de Boer says, despite what he termed several "perceived errors" brought to light in IPCC documents, the basic facts remain the same, still compelling the world to act.

"The scientific evidence that is provided by the IPCC has not been shaken, in spite of a very unfortunate mistake," said de Boer.

De Boer terms continual questioning of climate data "positive" because it makes the overall science more robust.

The United Nations says about 80 countries met a January 31st deadline to unveil national plans on targets and actions to reduce carbon emissions.

But some climate negotiators are pessimistic about a global pact being achieved any time soon because of a lack of consensus and the state of the world economy.

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