Cancun climate talks end with modest steps

A $100 billion fund to help developing countries cope with global warming is among steps agreed to at a UN climate conference in Cancun, Mexico.

An agreement to reaffirm support for the world's least developed countries to help them cope with global warming was a highlight of climate talks that ended early Saturday in Cancun, Mexico.

The Green Climate Fund would manage a "significant share" of the $100 billion a year pledged last year at the Copenhagen climate talks. However, the decision does not spell out sources for that funding, which will not be distributed until 2020.

Canadians demonstrate outside the climate change talks in Cancun, Mexico, on Friday. ((Gerardo Garcia/Reuters))

Delegates from 193 countries meeting for the United Nations talks in Cancun also agreed on a plan to halt deforestation and pledged to share low-carbon technologies.

However, the Cancun accord deferred for another year the tough work of carving out deeper reductions in carbon emissions.

The 12-day gathering was held a year after the Copenhagen climate talks ended without any binding agreement on curbing greenhouse gases. The Cancun agreement does not specify what will happen once the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012 — postponing the debate until the next scheduled climate talks in South Africa in 2011.

Bolivian Ambassador Pablo Solon said the agreement was so weak it would endanger the planet.

Still, Mexican President Felipe Calderon praised the Cancun accord, saying it breaks "inertia and feeling of hopelessness."

The European Union's top climate official, Connie Hedegaard, said Saturday's decisions would help keep international climate talks on track.

"But the two weeks in Cancun have shown once again how slow and difficult the process is," Hedegaard said. "Everyone needs to be aware that we still have a long and challenging journey ahead of us to reach the goal of a legally binding global climate framework."

Christiana Figueres, the UN's senior climate official, said the agreements would put all governments on cleaner trajectory. "Cancun has done its job," she said.

Environmentalists cautiously welcomed the deal.

It "wasn't enough to save the climate," said Alden Meyer of the Washington-based Union of Concerned Scientists. "But it did restore the credibility of the United Nations as a forum where progress can be made."

With files from The Associated Press