UN Eyes Global Warming Pact by 2009

BALI, Indonesia (AP) – In a dramatic finish to a U.N. climate conference, world leaders adopted a plan Saturday for negotiating a new global warming pact by 2009, after the United States backed down in a battle over wording supported by developing nations and Europe.

The U.S. stand had drawn loud boos and sharp rebukes-”Lead … or get out of the way!” one delegate demanded-before Undersecretary of State Paula Dobriansky reversed her position, clearing the way adoption of the so-called “Bali Roadmap.”

“The United States is very committed to this effort and just wants to really ensure we all act together. We will go forward and join consensus,” she said.

The sudden reversal was met with rousing applause.

The upcoming two years of talks, which will hammer out a successor to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, could determine for years to come how well the world will cut emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming. A year of scientific reports have warned that rising temperatures will cause widespread drought, floods, higher sea levels and worsening storms.

“This is the beginning, not the end,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in an interview with The Associated Press. “We will have to engage in more complex, long and difficult negotiations.”

The document does not commit countries to specific actions against global warming. It was limited to setting an agenda and schedule for negotiators to find ways to reduce pollution and help poor countries adapt to environmental changes by speeding up the transfer of technology and financial assistance.

All-night negotiations had appeared on the brink of collapse several times. Ban made an urgent plea for progress in the final hours of talks, expressing frustration with last-minutes disputes. He later praised the United States for compromising in the end.

“I am encouraged by, and I appreciate the spirit of flexibility of the U.S. delegation and other key delegations,” he told The Associated Press.

European and U.S. envoys dueled into the final hours of the two-week conference over an EU proposal to suggest an ambitious goal for cutting the emissions of industrial nations-by 25 to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.

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