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UN Climate Conference Set to Begin in South Africa

Representatives from nearly 200 countries are gathering in Durban, South Africa, to negotiate strategies for dealing with climate change, including how to extend the soon-to-expire Kyoto Protocol.

Efforts to negotiate a successor to the Kyoto pact, which committed industrialized nations to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by a set amount by 2012, have been on hold since the failure of the climate conference in Copenhagen two years ago.  

Previous debates have focused on how to balance the responsibilities of developed nations with those of emerging and still-developing countries, and few believe this conference, which begins Monday, will result in a new agreement. Eyes will likely focus on the world's two biggest polluters, the United States and China.

Earlier this month, U.S. President Barack Obama said the United States will use the meeting to urge emerging economies to do more to address global warming.  Mr. Obama warned that "advanced economies can't do this alone."

But this week, China called on developed nations to shoulder the responsibility of substantially reducing carbon emissions, saying they should be accountable for their greenhouse gas emissions during the past 200 years, and that developing nations lack the resources to take the same steps.

The U.S. never ratified the Kyoto pact, and has insisted any legally-binding agreement must also include developing nations.

The conference will also consider ways to raise $100 billion a year for the Green Climate Fund, which aims to help countries cope with global warming.

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