British leader cites progress on climate

Associated Press / October 19, 2009

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LONDON - Britain’s environment minister reported progress yesterday during climate change talks among the world’s 17 largest polluting nations.

Nations including the United States, China, India, Britain, and Brazil are meeting in London for a two-day summit of the Major Economies Forum, in advance of a December meeting in Copenhagen on a global climate change treaty. They are seeking a breakthrough on financing efforts to reduce emissions.

Ed Miliband, the British secretary of energy and climate change, said delegates reached “a lot of agreement on some of the key questions,’’ although they haven’t agreed on how much funding developed countries should offer poor nations to help them reduce greenhouse gases.

Pressure has been mounting for the United States to finalize its position before the December conference meant to cap two years of negotiations on a global climate change treaty.

“With only 50 more days to go before the final talks at Copenhagen, we have to up our game. Britain is determined to throw everything at this because the stakes are so high,’’ Miliband said yesterday.

The Obama administration said it was tied to action by US Congress, where climate bills were moving slowing toward passage, an argument which cut little ice with other negotiators.

“The rich countries of the Major Economies Forum must urgently put new money on the table to ensure the developing world can grow cleanly and adapt to the effects of climate change, which are already putting millions of lives at risk,’’ said Asad Rehman of Friends of the Earth.

Miliband noted the recent commitments by Japan and China aimed at reducing emissions. “There are some good straws in the wind, but there are also some big obstacles to overcome,’’ he told the BBC.

Miliband insisted that the meeting in London could tackle differences between developed and developing nations outside the formal UN negotiating process. “The truth is, if this is left to the negotiators. . . . I think we’ll fail,’’ he said.