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UN Conference Agrees to Launch Negotiations for New Global Warming Accord

The U.N. Climate Change Conference in Bali ended Saturday with an agreement to begin negotiations for a new treaty on global warming. VOA's Nancy-Amelia Collins, who covered the conference, reports from Jakarta that the agreement came after the United States fell into line at the last minute.

After two days of nearly round-the-clock negotiations, the success of the U.N. conference hinged on one point: would the U.S. delegation agree to a proposal by the developing nation bloc, the G77, for rich nations to give more financial assistance to poor nations to develop clean technology?

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who had addressed the conference earlier in the week, returned to Bali to make a last-minute appeal for flexibility.

"You have in your hands the ability to deliver to the people of the world a successful outcome," he said. "I appreciate that you have worked very hard for many days and nights, but let me be clear: your work is not yet done."

Shortly afterwards, the assembly burst into applause when the head of the United States delegation, Paula Dobriansky, made a dramatic announcement: the U.S. was dropping it opposition to the G77 plan.

"So with that Mr. Chairman, let me say to you that we will go forward and join consensus in this today," she said.

The chair of the G77 countries, Munir Akran, said developing countries had to struggle at the conference to make their voices heard.

"We the developing countries have had an uphill battle at this conference to project and to protect our legitimate interests. We have had to fight every inch of the way to secure reflection of our objectives and interests," said Akran.

The consensus is being called the "Bali roadmap." It took 13 days, a day longer than planned, for agreement to be reached.

The roadmap officially launches the most ambitious plan yet in the battle to reduce man-made greenhouse gases, which are thought to be warming the earth's climate. The new climate change treaty will be the subject of two years of negotiations. The new treaty will eventually replace the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, whose terms expire in 2012.

Under U.S. pressure, the roadmap did not include the specific emission reduction targets that most of the participating nations, led by the European Union, wanted written into the document.

The U.S., backed by Canada and Japan, said specific targets should be set during the negotiations now set to begin.

The roadmap did, however, say a report by the U.N.'s panel of scientists, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, should be used as a guideline. The roadmap placed the IPPC's recommendation for a 25 to 40 percent emission reduction target in the footnotes.

Negotiators will be charged with finding ways to reduce greenhouse gases and help developing nations clean technology and financial assistance.