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India says mid-term climate goals remain a problem

Indian negotiators said today that major economies had failed to agree on greenhouse gas emission reduction targets because rich countries had refused to set mid-term goals or promise finance and technology. Negotiations in Italy involving senior officials from the 17-nation Major Economies Forum broke down overnight after China and India opposed any mention of a 2050 target, a source familiar with negotiations said.

world Updated: Jul 08, 2009 21:51 IST

Indian negotiators said on Wednesday major economies had failed to agree on greenhouse gas emission reduction targets because rich countries had refused to set mid-term goals or promise finance and technology.

Negotiations in Italy involving senior officials from the 17-nation Major Economies Forum (MEF) broke down overnight after China and India opposed any mention of a 2050 target, a source familiar with negotiations told Reuters.

The officials had been trying to lay the ground for an MEF summit on Thursday that will be chaired by US President Barack Obama and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who chairs the Group of Eight wealthy nations.

According to a draft document ahead of talks on Thursday, G8 countries failed to secure an agreement to set a goal of halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 - a setback to efforts to secure a new U.N. climate pact in Copenhagen in December.

The developing countries first want to see rich nations commit to making deep cuts in their own emissions by 2020 and also work out plans to provide developing nations with short-term finance to help them cope with ever more floods, heatwaves, storms and rising sea levels, the source said.

"For any long-term goals there have to be credible mid-term goals in the range of 25-40 percent," Dinesh Patnaik, a top Indian negotiators who attended Tuesday's talks, told Reuters in reference to a range set by a panel of UN climate experts.

"In the absence of any clear indication of mid-term targets, finance and technology, the developing countries could not agree on long-term goals," he added.

The removal of a reference in the MEF draft to halving emissions by 2050 is a blow to efforts to secure a new UN climate pact in December.

MEF nations account for 80 per cent of world greenhouse gas emissions, largely caused by burning fossil fuels.

But, according to a draft G8 statement seen by Reuters on Wednesday, the MEF agreed the rise on global temperatures should not exceed 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit).

"In the spirit of compromise we have agreed on a 2-degree target," Patnaik said.

Environmental experts say that if this target is taken seriously it would force deep cuts in heat-trapping gases.

(Editing by Alister Doyle and Crispian Balmer)