NEW DELHI (AFP) — The head of a Nobel-winning panel of climate scientists was cautiously optimistic about progress being made at a key UN global warming conference in Indonesia next month.
Country delegations will be meeting on the island of Bali from December 3-14 to break a deadlock on negotiations for intensifying cuts in the world's carbon emissions five years from now.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Chairman Rajendra K. Pachauri said Monday he expected a "likely agreement on a roadmap" to come out of Bali.
"There is an unprecedented awareness among the public and leaders now," Pachauri told reporters in New Delhi.
"This augurs some degree of seriousness towards the discussions that take place and the negotiation of post-2012 commitments."
Pachauri also said he expected less "obstruction" from the United States and Australia than previously.
Shortly after taking office, US President George W. Bush declared in March 2001 he would not submit the Kyoto Protocol international climate pact to the US Senate for ratification.
Bush was supported by then Australian Prime Minister John Howard, a fellow conservative.
But Howard was ousted on Saturday from office by the Labor Party's Kevin Rudd, who has promised to seek ratification of Kyoto and attend the Bali gathering, leaving the United States isolated.
"My information is that some of the delegations who have been obstructionist in the past will be much more cooperative this time," said Pachauri, referring to "developments in Australia" and increased climate concern in the US.
The industrialised countries that have signed and ratified the Protocol are required to meet targeted curbs in their greenhouse-gas emissions by 2012.
But the deeper cuts required after that -- Pachauri estimated emissions cuts of approximately 50 to 85 percent were needed by 2050 to keep the increase in the world's temperature to around two degrees Celsius -- and the uneven effects of climate change are likely to still hamper the negotiations.
The world's biggest emitter, the United States, has consistently opposed binding cuts that do not apply to China and India, whose economic growth has seen both nations up their production of greenhouse gases.
Developing countries, who are likely to bear the brunt of climate change, say the onus of making the biggest cuts should be on the rich countries that have industrialised through the mass use of fossil fuels in the last century.
Pachauri said new commitments must be in place by the next climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2009, if countries are to be able to implement the post-2012 agreement.
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