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Environment

Doha talks go down to the wire

The Doha talks are drawing to a close under a cloud of uncertainty. Critics deplore that the latest draft documents fall short of the needs of countries facing an existential threat from climate change.

Maledivische Inseln

Maledivische Inseln

UN talks in Doha on global warming entered their last day on Friday, with a number of key issues yet to be tied up.

The ultimate goal of the meeting is to decide on a new climate change deal that would come into force in 2020. Following talks overnight, a draft agreement was presented on Friday. But it does not feature midterm targets, which developing states had been working towards. The UN climate secretariat commented that "further consultations are necessary."

With the end of the summit fast approaching but uncertainty on central issues lingering, commentators revealed their dragging morale.

"We woke up today and found ourselves no closer to addressing climate change, and possibly considerably farther from this imperative than when we started here" 11 days ago, said Kieren Keke, the chair of the Alliance of Small Island States.

Greenpeace chief executive Kumi Naidoo also told AFP that draft conference texts prepared so far "fail to meet the basic requirements of the countries facing an existential threat" from climate change. But Naidoo added that "the day isn't over yet."

On the agenda: a long day and night

Delegates are in for another long day and night on Friday if they are to deal with the two main sticking points which have hampered negotiations throughout the summit so far: how much funding to give impoverished states so they can meet the challenges of climate change; and how to extend the Kyoto Protocol - a binding agreement which obliges industrialized nations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

The question of how much money to give to poor countries to deal with global warming has proved a huge quandary at the event. Developing countries want $60 billion from now until 2015. But the United States and Europe say finances are squeezed and are not willing to talk concrete figures for the period between 2013 and 2020.

The topic of "hot air"- or greenhouse gas quotas first handed out via the 1997 Kyoto Protocol - has been equally controversial. Negotiators at the Doha summit are supposed to be discussing a new 2020 deal that would include every country on the planet, including China, India and the USA, which are not part of the current Kyoto agreement.

German Environment Minister Peter Altmaier has predicted that the negotiations, which are infamous for running over schedule, "will be on the knife's edge up to the last moment."

sej/rg (AFP, AP)