UN climate chief reminds rich countries of promised billions in help for poor nations

BERLIN (AP) — As another difficult round of climate talks approached, the United Nations urged rich countries Tuesday to live up to their promises of help for poor nations in the fight against global warming.

Outgoing U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer said that, to make headway toward a global climate deal, industrialized nations need to come up with the $30 billion in aid they have promised for the next three years.

Also, negotiators need to focus on a "concrete and realistic goal" for the next major U.N. climate conference in Cancun, Mexico, in December, he said.

"Cancun can deliver if promises of help are kept and if promises to compromise are honored in the negotiations," de Boer said.

Negotiators from around the world plan to meet May 31 in Bonn for two weeks of expert-level talks on the sketchy draft of a new international climate treaty that would take effect after 2012.

De Boer said the session could "significantly advance that text," but stressed that "higher political guidance is required to find ways forward."

The talks come about six months after the U.N. climate conference in Copenhagen. Many environmentalists and political leaders had hoped that summit would produce a breakthrough on fighting global warming, but it came up only with a nonbinding political declaration, the so-called Copenhagen Accord.

That included the $30 billion pledge by industrialized countries for the years 2010-2012 to help poor nations fight climate change and cope with its effects, including droughts or floods.

De Boer said that promise needs to be met to build trust.

"Times are harsh, especially in Europe, but $10 billion a year for three years from all industrialized countries is not an impossible call," he said.

"If developing countries are given the ways and means to act on all aspects of mitigation and adaptation, it will establish firm ground for bigger ambition."

De Boer announced earlier this year that he will quit by July 1. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed Costa Rican climate expert Christiana Figueres to succeed him.

De Boer has made it clear that he does not expect a comprehensive treaty in Cancun. Instead, he now talks only of an "operational architecture" he thinks can be finalized there.

"There is a growing consensus on what that first goal can be — namely a full, operational architecture to implement effective, collective climate action," he said Tuesday.

In Copenhagen, negotiators agreed that global warming must be limited to less that 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) compared to preindustrial times. However, the individual pledges by nations around the world to cut their greenhouse gases aren't yet ambitious enough to meet that goal, de Boer said.

Industrialized nations also promised they would shore up their aid to poor nations from the initial $10 billion a year to an annual $100 billion by 2020 — but they have not said how they want to generate that kind of money, de Boer noted.

Negotiators are still at odds whether or not the new treaty should be "legally binding," and what that would mean — the climate chief said.