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Rich, Emerging Nations Must Bridge Climate Divide: UN Envoy

UNITED NATIONS, July 16 (PNA/Xinhua) -- Industrialized and developing countries must rectify their "formidable differences" if the climate talks in Copenhagen are to bear substantive results, said the director of the UN climate change support team here on Wednesday.

"All countries need to make an effort based on common but differentiated responsibilities," Janos Pasztor told reporters.

"Developing countries have to reduce emission growth to depart from business as usual ... and developed countries must be more ambitious in their targets to reduce emissions and produce the financial and technological resources that developing countries need," he said.

With 144 days left before a global climate treaty is expected to be agreed upon in Copenhagen, there still appears to be a chasm between developed and developing countries.

At the L'Aquila, Italy Summit last week, the Group of Eight (G8) nations -- the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Canada and Russia -- failed to convince India and China to cut greenhouse emissions by 50 percent by 2050, reports said.

For their part, China and India have stated that they will not act to reduce their emissions until industrialized countries set clear mid-term goals.

In L'Aquila, the G8 nations did unite in issuing a declaration that they plan to cut emissions by 80 percent by 2050 but no short- term targets were agreed upon.

Critics, including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki moon, have said that without short-term targets, commitments to curb emissions will lack focus.

Speaking to reporters, Pasztor praised leaders of the Major Economies Forum (MEF), which includes the G8 nations along with emerging economies such as China, India, Brazil and Indonesia, for agreeing to limit global warming by 2 degrees Celsius, a " critically important goal" and one that countries "had never endorsed before."

However, not everyone believes 2 degrees is enough. The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) -- a United Nations-based coalition of the world's smallest island countries whose 42 members are among the most vulnerable to climate change -- has criticized the agreement as "unacceptable."

They say that a temperature gain of 2 degrees would kill off up to 85 percent of corals, raise sea levels, which would force mass migration, and intensify storms.

AOSIS wants the cap set at 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Pasztor acknowledged that "there is no perfect solution," but 2 degrees appears to be a globally accepted target that addresses both scientific and political concerns.

On Sept. 22, the world's leaders will convene at United Nations headquarters in New York to participate in political roundtable discussions on capping greenhouse gas emissions. Each head of state is allowed to bring in only one advisor.

"The objective is for them to provide a political vision about where we are heading to," said Pasztor, adding that no political declaration is expected at the end of the summit.