The head of the UN climate panel expressed hope that climate talks in Bali will end on Friday with a clear timetable for fixing greenhouse gas emission cuts to help fend off dangerous global warming.
The 190-nation talks aimed at launching two years of talks on a global pact to fight global warming have been deadlocked over emissions goals with the United States, Japan and Canada opposed to any reference to numerical goals for emissions.
"If we have a very strong statement about reduction of emissions by 2020 and a clear timetable by which the numbers have to be decided on I would treat that as progress," Rajendra Pachauri told reporters after arriving from Oslo where he collected the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of his UN panel.
He said that a deal about a timetable would pave the way to firm targets for emissions goals by rich nations to be decided "maybe not here but maybe six months' later".
"Certainly there is some merit in the clear mention of the targets by 2020," he said. The UN panel this year blamed mankind for causing warming and said it would bring more heatwaves, floods, droughts and rising seas.
"If they don't arrive at that kind of number I think at the minimum we need a very strong statement that by 2050 we should have stringent mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions and that perhaps the exact level of reductions should be decided in the next six months. We should lay down the timetable."
The Dec. 3-14 Bali talks are split over the guidelines for starting two years of formal negotiations on a deal to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, a UN pact capping greenhouse gas emissions of all industrial nations except the United States until 2012.
The EU wants Bali's final text to agree a non-binding goal of cuts in emissions, mainly from burning fossil fuels, of 25 to 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 for industrial economies. The United States, Japan and Canada are opposed, saying any figures would prejudge the outcome.
Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, refused to comment on US opposition, saying he hoped the negotiations would be able to sort out all differences.
"I hope we can resolve this difference of opinion," Pachauri said.
"The very fact that they are discussing fairly stringent targets of 25 to 40 per cent is not bad at all and is an indication they accept the science that we brought out and they accept the inevitability of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases," he said.
"Otherwise we'll certainly suffer the impacts of climate change which would be very serious."