Row erupts as Bali talks near conclusion

International climate talks in Bali drew to a close on Friday after two weeks of wrangling between politicians over the future of targets to cut carbon emissions.

Delegates gathered on the Indonesian island for the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2007, which aimed to reach consensus on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol when that agreement comes to an end in 2012.

However, a final resolution on future targets looked uncertain as the conference moved into its final day after the US- the only developed country which has not signed up to Kyoto – pushed for targets to be made voluntary.

The move resulted in EU ministers threatening to boycott a US-led climate summit next month unless the Bush administration backed down.

EU states and their allies want industrialised countries to agree to cuts of 25%-40% from 1990 levels by 2020.

Another tough question on the table was whether developing countries such as China should have caps set on their emissions.

Discussions suggested delegates would agree targets should be set but these were likely to be less rigid than those for industrialised countries.

On Thursday, Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said industrialised countries had to set ambitious targets for themselves to set examples for developing countries.

He said: “What’s becoming clear to me is, the more robust industrialised countries are willing to be in terms of the effort they are working towards, the stronger the reaction you’re likely to get from developing countries.”

Earlier in the day, he had voiced concern about the pace of negotiations, warning that if the work on a future agreement could not be completed in time “the whole house of cards falls to pieces”.

Delegates had also been trying to reach an agreement on other topics, such as adaptation to climate change, the launch of a fund for adaptation, reducing emissions from deforestation and arrangements for a review of the Kyoto protocol.

Kate Martin

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