Environmental officials urged industrialized and developing countries Friday to stop bickering in climate change negotiations, as a Chinese delegate accused rich nations of reneging on commitments to fight global warming.
Officials from more than 100 countries are attending an annual U.N. environmental meeting on Indonesia's resort island of Bali. They said trust must be restored among nations following the failure at a global conference in Copenhagen in December to forge a binding accord on cutting emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases which could threaten humanity.
"There was a very strong message from many countries that this is actually an existential challenge," Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa told a news conference.
"One overriding sentiment" expressed by many countries "was the need to rebuild confidence, to address the question of trust deficit," he said.
At Copenhagen, nations only agreed on a voluntary plan to tackle climate change. The more than 190 nations will reconvene in Cancun, Mexico, later this year for another attempt to reach a binding agreement.
The aim is to keep the Earth's average temperature from rising more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) above preindustrial levels of the late 18th century.
U.N. scientists have said any temperature rise above that figure could lead to catastrophic sea-level rises, threatening islands and coastal cities. It would also kill off many species of animals and plants while altering the agricultural economies of many countries.
Despite the call for harmony, Chinese Foreign Ministry official Guo Zaofeng accused developed countries of not living up to their past commitments to cut greenhouse gases and provide funds and technology to poor countries grappling with global warming.
"This way, they've broken the atmosphere of trust," Guo told The Associated Press. "This is why we did not get quicker progress during the negotiations."
China, the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, has already said it would cut its "carbon intensity" — a measure of carbon dioxide emissions per unit of production — by 40 to 45 percent by 2020, from 2005 levels.
China will undertake such emissions cuts voluntarily and not under a legal accord, Guo said.
The head of the U.S. delegation in the Bali meeting, Kerri-Ann Jones, refused to comment on Guo's remarks. She said the Copenhagen meeting made progress, citing a plan for aid and technological support for poor countries.
"It's a very difficult challenge that we're facing," Jones said. "We have to keep working on the positive side. I think we can advance."
U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer told AP on Thursday it was unlikely that a binding agreement could be forged in the Cancun meetings.
"It's very close to the deadline and that's a problem," de Boer said. The Cancun meetings are expected in November or December.
He said the focus should shift toward reaching an agreement at a summit next year in South Africa before the Kyoto Protocol, which set emissions targets for industrial countries, expires in 2012.
De Boer, who helped kickstart the climate talks in 2007 on replacing the Kyoto Protocol, last week announced he was resigning effective in July, but said his decision had nothing to do with the outcome of the Copenhagen meeting.
As one outcome of Copenhagen, 60 nations — including China, the United States and the 27-member European Union — last month submitted nonbinding pledges to the U.N. for reducing the heat-trapping gases. Together the countries produce 78 percent of the world's greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels.
Several countries, meanwhile, have called for a review of the U.N.-affiliated Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which issued a 2007 climate change report that contained errors.
A U.N. statement said details of the independent review and its scope will be announced next week.
The report's conclusion that Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035 turned out to be incorrect, an error that bolstered arguments from climate change skeptics that fears of global warming are overblown.
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