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Delegates at the Cancun climate talks are close to reaching a deal on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation, Environment Minister John Baird said. ((Reuters))

Agreements on deforestation and funding to help developing nations cope with climate change are close to being reached at the climate change talks in Cancun, Mexico, Canadian delegates say.

Environment Minister John Baird said Thursday that there were signs of progress on issues such as providing funding to developing nations and transfering technologies to help them adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change. In addition, nations were close to a deal on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation.

"We are here to build on that momentum," Baird said.

The United Nations talks wrap up Friday evening. They were intended as a follow-up to last year's Copenhagen summit, where countries tried to reach an agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

In the end, they made only voluntary pledges and were to resume negotiations in Cancun.

In a six-minute speech Thursday, Baird reiterated Canada's insistence that any agreement on emission targets must include all nations, even developing countries not bound by Kyoto, such as India and China.

That topic remained contentious at Cancun, even as some progress was being made on smaller issues such as deforestation.

Canada's chief negotiator, Guy St. Jacques, said he remained hopeful that there would be some progress at the Cancun talks before they end:

"I think we will be able — with hard work — to, hopefully, get to that balanced outcome, but there is some heavy lifting that needs to be done today," he said Thursday.

No hurry: negotiator

Meanwhile, Japanese representatives said they wouldn't mind if discussions continued after Cancun on what to do when Kyoto expires.

St. Jacques agreed with that approach.

"There's no need to be very specific at this stage," he said. "We still have two years to go."

Graham Saul, executive director of the Climate Action Network, was critical of that attitude.

"Their approach to the international negotiations looks a lot like their approach to action in climate change: … put everything off as long as you can and hope nobody notices," Saul said.

Chris Henschel, who is following the summit for the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, said he sees a flaw even in the deforestation deal.

He said it limits logging in developing countries but not in developed nations.

Canada should take a leadership role in ensuring its own forests and those in other developed countries are protected, Henschel said.

"I think that would have an impact here," he said.