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Time running out for Kyoto talks

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An activist protests in the floods of the Rhine river  


BONN, Germany -- Talks on saving the Kyoto climate protocol which aims to reduce harmful carbon dioxide emissions look set to enter an unscheduled fifth day.

Environment ministers and top officials at Bonn are trying to settle on a 15-page draft agreement submitted by conference chairman Jan Pronk on Saturday.

Talks were due to end on Sunday but continued through the night in an attempt to salvage the 1997 protocol.

Doubts had been cast on whether the last ditch talks would be successful after leaders of the main industrialised nations failed to agree on the Kyoto treaty at separate talks in Genoa during the G8 Summit on Sunday.

Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien said: "Bonn will not probably have our agreement. We need some more clarifications and credits."

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Failure to agree in Bonn will not only repeat the frustrations of a similar meeting at The Hague last November but also increase the fears that Kyoto will become derailed by alternative proposals.

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Pronk's draft accord includes significant European concessions to Canada, Japan and Australia that would allow them to credit conservation measures against their pollution reduction targets.

Most of the 178 delegates have accepted, on the condition that no further changes or concessions are made, but Japan, Canada and Australia remain key stumbling blocks.

They have raised objections and have refused to go along with the draft without further talks.

The United States, which sent a delegation to the conference, have not budged from their initial stance to reject Kyoto on the grounds that it is damaging to the country's economy, it says.

The Kyoto 1997 treaty aims to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by 5.2 percent of 1990 levels by 2012.

The European Union's chief negotiator Olivier Deleuze said: "The moment is approaching when the question will be who will take the responsibility for blocking the agreement."

German Environment Minister Juergen Trittin warned the talks could collapse if countries tried to reopen the negotiations.

"We believe that it is not possible to achieve a better result," he said.

"There is a risk that further proposals for amendments will make the Bonn climate change conference and the Kyoto Protocol fail."

But world leaders at the G8 Summit supported Russia's offer of holding further talks in 2003.

"We welcome the Russian proposal to convene in 2003 a global conference on climate change with the participation of governments, business and science as well as representatives of civil society."

The head of the Russian delegation at Genoa, Alexander Bedritsky, told Reuters: "A forum is needed to study the scientific aspects and social and economic questions."

But Ukrainian Environment Minister Serhiy Kurykin said it was "an attempt to delay decisions to later."

Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi refused to say whether his country would go ahead with the Kyoto pact without the U.S..






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