In overtime, UN climate talks head for watered-down deal in Lima

Acitivists from different organizations demonstrate on the side-lines of the UN COP20 and CMP10 climate change conferences being held in Lima on Dec 12, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Acitivists from different organizations demonstrate on the side-lines of the UN COP20 and CMP10 climate change conferences being held in Lima on Dec 12, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

LIMA (Reuters) - United Nations climate talks, which ran on into a an extra day on Saturday, are heading for a watered-down deal on limiting global warming, leaving many of the toughest issues for next year's Paris summit.

Peruvian Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, hosting the talks, told delegates that a new text on Saturday morning to try to break impasses was not perfect, but reflected common ground.

Rich and poor nations were at odds after two weeks of talks in Peru over how to share the burden of curbing rising world emissions and how to raise a promised US$100 billion (S$125 billion) a year by 2020 to help the poor cope with a warmer world.

Lima is meant to establish the building blocks of a new global deal to limit climate change to be agreed at a UN summit in Paris in December 2015, but many of the most contentious issues remain to be decided. "We are pushing the big things to Paris," one delegate said on Saturday in a break in the talks on how to avert more floods, heat waves, droughts and rising seas.

China, the biggest greenhouse gas emitter, has resisted any scrutiny of its policy to cap its emissions by around 2030, delegates said, despite hopes of more openness after a pact last month with the United States to limit warming. "This is not in the spirit of the momentum that was offered by the pledge between the United States and China," Jennifer Morgan, of the World Resources Institute think-tank, said of China's position.

The new draft text expressed "grave concern" that all promises to fight climate change were too lax to reach a goal of limiting global warming to an agreed goal of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times.

It laid out detailed ways for nations to submit their domestic plans for fighting climate change beyond 2020 to the United Nations, by an informal deadline of March 31, 2015 to help lay the groundwork for a Paris accord.

It dropped a key demand by many developing nations to discuss compensation for loss and damage from climate change, such as from typhoons or rising sea levels.