Envoys take overnight break as Bali conference extended

International envoys at the UN climate conference take an overnight break in final talks as they work to resolve a dispute over their goal in negotiating future cutbacks in global-warming gases.

International envoys at the UN climate conference took an overnight break early Saturday as they worked to resolve a dispute over future cutbacks in greenhouse gases.

Yvo de Boer, the UN climate chief, said late Friday from Balithe talks were going "slower than I had expected" but that he thought the conference was "on the brink of agreement."

"People are working very hard to resolve outstanding issues," he said.

Talks were extended on Friday as U.S. and European Union negotiators were reportedly close to a compromise that would end a stalemate on how far a new international agreement on future greenhouse gas cutbacks should go.

German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel, left, and an unidentified official speak to reporters during the UN climate conference on Friday in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia. ((Ed Wray/Associated Press))

A group of representatives from 20 countries was still working on a political solution more than eight hours beyond the conference's officially scheduled conclusion, the CBC's Michel Cormier reported from Bali.

"For now, we still don't have a final text," Cormier said.

A few countries, including Canada, have been heavily criticized at the talks for blocking a climate-change framework that includes hard targets.

The Canadian Press reported a draft of a final report had been circulated to delegates that predicts global emissions will "peak" within 10 or 15 years and must fall to well under half of 2000 levels by 2050. It calls on countries to take "enhanced action."

The reference to 2000 will come as a letdown to many Kyoto Protocol signatories — especially Europeans. For more than a decade, 1990 has been the agreed-upon international standard used to calculate greenhouse gas emissions.

The EU had proposed during the conference thattheBali document would set binding targets of a 25 to 40 per cent reduction below 1990 levels for industrialized nations by 2020.

Aside from Canada, the U.S., Japan, New Zealand and Russia also opposesuch language for the emissions limits.

In the final day of the two-week conference, delegates sparred over the wording ofthe final document until 2:30 a.m. local time Friday morning,beforethesmaller groupbroke off into extendedmeetings to work outthe statement's final language.

"I think the situation is good and the climate in the climate conference is good, and we will have success in the end," German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel told reporters, declining to give details of the talks. "We are sure we are able to reach an agreement."

Gabriel's comments came a day after hetold reporters thatEU nations were prepared to boycott a U.S.-sponsored meeting next month unless Washington accepts their figures for negotiating deep reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.

A spokesman for John Baird, Canada's environment minister, told CBC News on Friday it was "crunch time" at the talks.

Environment Minister John Baird, seen here at this week's summit, has dismissed the notion of signing a climate-change treaty without the U.S., saying it would handicap the economy without reversing greenhouse gas emissions. ((Ivanoh Demers/Canadian Press))

Baird hasinsisted Canada won't accept a climate deal unless it includes major polluters like the U.S., China and India — a position that drew the apparent scorn of former U.S. vice-president Al Goreduring theNobel Peace Prize winner's address tothe 190-nation conference on Thursday.

The annual conference's main goal was to launch negotiations for a regime of deeper emissions reductions to succeed the Kyoto accord, which requires 37 industrial nations to cut output of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases byfive per cent below 1990 levels by 2012.

The United States is the only major industrial nation to reject Kyoto.

Baird reiterated the Conservatives' "realistic" plan to reduce Canada's greenhouse gas emissions "an absolute" 20 per cent from current levels by 2020.

The federal government doesn't use pollution levels of 1990, as do other countriesthat signed Kyoto, but instead bases the reductions plan on 2006 levels, which are much higher.

With files from the Associated Press