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International Climate Change Meeting Ends With Little Progress

A woman walks past high rise buildings shrouded with hazy skyline in Beijing, China, 09 Oct 2010

A United Nations meeting on climate change has wrapped up in the Chinese port city of Tianjin, with delegates still disagreeing on some key issues, such as emissions mitigation and transparency.

The head of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres, said Saturday some progress was made in six days of meetings in Tianjin.

But she did not give details of the agreements that were reached in the precursor meeting to the world's next big attempt to reach a climate change accord, later this year, in Cancun, Mexico. "I would dare say that this week has actually gotten us closer to a structured set of decisions that can be agreed in Cancun," said Figueres.

Last year, the international community failed to reach an agreement that included legally binding emissions reductions at a high-profile meeting in Copenhagen.

There has been much focus on the United States and China - the world's two largest emitters of man-made greenhouse gases, which many believe cause global warming.

The head of the U.S. delegation, Jonathan Pershing, noted there has been some progress on issues like financing, technology transfer and forests, but that other issues remain unresolved.

"In particular, we're disappointed that we made very little progress on the key issue that confronts us - how to reflect our commitments and actions, and agree on the provisions on reporting to each other on those commitments and actions," he said.

Pershing said the United States and China work well together on climate change, but he acknowledged that the two countries have disagreements in global settings.

In a speech Friday in the United States, American climate change envoy Todd Stern said Beijing could not insist rich nations take on fixed targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions while China and other big emerging nations adopt only voluntary domestic goals.

The head of the Chinese delegation, Su Wei, criticized Stern's comments as an attempt to blame China and other developing countries.

Su says China believes developed countries should undertake legally binding emissions reductions targets and provide technological and financial support to developing countries under a dual-track system.

Meanwhile, Taukiei Kitara, from the Tuvalu Climate Action Network, said small island states have urgent worries because one effect of global warming is rising ocean levels.

"I think I will support the idea that progress has been good, but it has been really, really, really slow, and for me, coming from a small island state, that has been really frustrating and very, very disappointing. We are here to get assurance from countries on our survival," said Taukiei Kitara.

The focus of the international climate change effort now moves to Mexico, for a major conference that begins at the end of November.