Environment ministers target 2009 climate treaty

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BOGOR, Indonesia, Oct 25 (Reuters) An informal meeting of environment ministers in Indonesia has accepted the need for negotiations on a new treaty to fight climate change to be wrapped up by 2009, a UN official said today.

The gathering of environment ministers and officials from about 40 nations this week comes ahead of a key meeting in Bali in December aimed at hammering out a new global climate deal to curb carbon emissions after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

''The meeting has indicated very clearly that negotiations need to be completed in 2009 and it will give enough time for ratification of the long-term agreement by governments and its entry into force before the Kyoto period ends in 2012,'' said Yvo de Boer, the head of the UN Climate Change Secretariat.

De Boer has been pushing hard for talks to be wrapped up by 2009, although there are concerns the timetable could slip because of the US presidential election next year and the complexity of dividing emission limits between rich and poor.

There have been tensions between developed and poorer industrialising nations over who should bear the burden for cutting emissions, seen by many scientists as vital to slow global warming and effects such as floods, droughts and rising sea levels.

''There was a strong agreement here that industrialised countries must continue to take the lead by reducing their emissions of greenhouse gases given their historic responsibility for the problem'', he told a news conference at the presidential palace in Bogor, an hour's drive south of the capital, Jakarta.

''But at the same time there was also an agreement to have a broader engagement of developing countries on the issue as well.'' However, the UN official said there should be incentives for developing countries to cut emissions, noting concern among poorer nations that reducing them could hamper development.

Kyoto binds 36 rich nations to cap emissions of greenhouse gases until 2012 and a new global deal would seek to engage outsiders such as the United States and Australia, as well as developing countries such as China, India and Brazil.

De Boer said Australia and the United States had played a constructive role in the informal talks and both accepted negotiations needed to be completed in 2009.

Forestry was also placed high on the agenda, Indonesian Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar told a news conference.

Indonesia has been trying to mobilise nations with most of the world's tropical rainforests to push for rich countries to pay the tropical nations not to chop down rainforests.

''On the issue of forestry, it has been tabled and there is a general consensus that the world or the parties here will focus more on making decisions in reforestation or afforestation and combating deforestation,'' said Witoelar.

Emil Salim, a former environment minister heading the Indonesian delegation to the Bali talks, said a wide spectrum of interests was represented in Bogor, including oil producers.

''Every country who has a stake in this have been represented in the meeting -- the archipelagic countries such as the Maldives, OPEC by countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United States, Australia, China and India.'' REUTERS SYU PM1755

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