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Bali Climate Conference Enters Final Negotiations

Debate at the U.N. climate-change conference has intensified over whether to include greenhouse gas emissions targets in a new climate accord. As VOA Correspondent Nancy-Amelia Collins reports from the conference on Indonesia's Bali Island, European nations and many environmentalists want mandatory targets, which the United States and several other nations oppose.

The talks in Bali have been dominated by arguments over whether the meeting's final text should include a target for rich nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

The United States, along with Japan and Canada, reject emission targets in the document. They argue it would prejudge the outcome of the negotiations on replacing the Kyoto Protocol, which aimed to reduce global warming. The Kyoto agreement expires in 2012.

Senior ministers from around 190 nations begin high-level meetings Wednesday to finalize the main negotiating draft.

U.N. climate Chief Yvo de Boer told reporters the current draft text includes a 25 to 40 percent reduction target, but it is non-binding and only meant to be used as a guide.

"It is something that governments earlier this year said they should be guided by in the context of the negotiations. So this range does not represent concrete emission reduction targets for industrialized countries and this conference will not produce an agreement on concrete emission targets," said de Boer.

The European Union and many environmentalists say the emission targets are necessary if developing nations are serious about leading the fight against climate change.

Many scientists and environmentalists think so-called green-house gases released by burning fossil fuels such as coal and oil contribute to global warming. They argue that cutting emissions can reduce the effects of warming, such as drought, floods and rising sea levels.

Hans Verolme, of the environmental group the World Wide Fund, says if delegates accept the findings by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change they need to act on emissions.

"The crux of the discussion really is about the level of ambition. Do we take the science seriously, do we listen to the IPCC and [former Vice President] Al Gore, who yesterday received the Nobel Peace Prize, or do we just put it in some vague text about that we have ambition, a common vision, but do not really define what that means," said Verolme.

Senior officials, including U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, and Australia's new prime minister, Kevin Rudd, have begun arriving in Bali for Wednesday's meetings.