UN climate draft sets tougher emission targets

A new draft proposal released at the Copenhagen climate summit calls for developed countries to make deeper cuts to greenhouse gas emissions than current commitments.

A new draft proposal released Friday at the Copenhagen climate summit calls for developed countries to make deeper cuts to greenhouse gas emissions than current commitments.

The six-page draft document, authored by Michael Zammit Cutajar, the chair of the UN's ad-hoc working group on long-term cooperative action, doesn't specify a solid emission reduction target for developed countries such as Canada, but instead offers a range of options.

For example, the draft calls for emission reductions of 25 to 45 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020 for developed countries, and reductions of 15 and 30 per cent by 2020 for developing countries.

Both these targets are more ambitious than the current climate targets outlined by both industrialized and emerging economies.

The European Union has pledged a 20 per cent cut in emissions from 1990 levels with a pledge to raise the cuts to 30 per cent of 1990 levels if the United States and Canada provide better commitments.

Canada's federal government has proposed a 20 per cent cut in emissions from 2006 levels, which falls short of the baseline European offer and well short of the working group's draft.

World leaders to meet next week

The document provides a starting point for world leaders scheduled to meet next week to try and hammer out an agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is one of over 100 heads of state scheduled to take part in the leaders conference.

A group of small island states also issued their own draft plan on Friday, calling for even more stringent emission reductions they say are needed to keep average global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels.

The Alliance of Small Island States have been pushing for more aggressive emission reductions because they fear rising global temperatures will in turn lead to dangerous increases in sea levels that might threaten their populations. Most draft plans call for trying to keep rises in average global temperatures below 2 C.

China and U.S. trade barbs over climate funding

Negotiators are also discussing how much funding should be given to aid developing countries, another point of contention.

Earlier this week, the chief U.S. climate negotiator irked Chinese officials for suggesting that while China should be considered a developing country for the purposes of climate targets, it shouldn't receive any aid from developed countries because of its robust economy.

That drew a harsh response Friday from China's Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei, who said U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern either lacks common sense or is "extremely irresponsible."

"I don't want to say the gentleman is ignorant," He told reporters in Copenhagen. "I think he lacks common sense where he made such a comment vis-a-vis funds for China. Either lack of common sense or extremely irresponsible."

The Chinese official suggested the U.S. and China had different responsibilities in dealing with global warming, as the U.S. and other rich countries have a heavy historical responsibility to cut emissions.

With files from The Associated Press