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Climate Talks Need More Urgency

NEW DELHI, India - An important round of discussions on the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol ended today with progress on some technical issues, but still no consensus on how to respond to the long-term dangers of climate change.

"While some important issues were addressed, we are disappointed by the lack of urgency shown by negotiators in responding to dangerous climate change impacts such as increased intensity of extreme weather events, coral bleaching and sea level rise," said Jennifer Morgan, director of World Wildlife Fund's Climate Change Program.

Progress at this meeting - the eighth Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) - was particularly slow because of the positions taken on a number of issues by the United States and Saudi Arabia, Morgan charged.

"Working together, the US and Saudi sides repeatedly challenged widely accepted scientific findings and supported one another in ways that polarized North-South divisions and slowed progress on many issues," Morgan said. "This was unfortunate, because North-South divisions need not have been a major issue in New Delhi, especially in view of the fact that it was a North-South coalition that saved the Kyoto Protocol only last year," she added.

In spite of this, there were some positive developments at the New Delhi meeting, among them Canada's further moves towards ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. "WWF now looks to Russia to ratify as soon as possible so that the protocol can become international law," Morgan said.

Key discussions were also held on the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), a provision under which developed countries can invest in greenhouse gas reducing projects in developing countries. WWF's concerns about the poor quality of some of these projects were echoed by a number of delegates and the issue is now likely to be examined by the CDM's executive board.

Discussions began on land use change and forest project rules and many delegates also welcomed WWF's new "Gold Standard for Kyoto Projects" - a set of criteria designed to ensure that CDM projects result in real emission reductions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.