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Climate change talks in November may see emission cuts only for industrialised nations. Photo: Paul Jones

United Nations envoys are discussing ways to limit climate-damaging pollution while avoiding mandatory cuts for developing nations, Brazil’s delegate to the talks said.

The discussions are expected to culminate in 2015 with a global treaty reducing greenhouse gases by imposing cuts on the richest industrial nations and requiring poorer ones to slow the rate their carbon-dioxide emissions increase from business-as- usual practices, said Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado, Brazil’s undersecretary general for environment in the foreign ministry.

His comments underscore efforts by nations such as Brazil and China to obtain weaker commitments under the anticipated treaty from those of richer nations. The treaty would seek to cap pollution from fossil fuels blamed for damaging the Earth’s atmosphere.

“This doesn’t mean that you will reduce in absolute terms,” Figueiredo said in an interview in New York today. “It will simply say you will grow your emissions at a slower pace, and this being legally binding.”

Figueiredo, a veteran negotiator at the 190-nation UN climate talks, said the talks aren’t heading toward a reduction in emissions that applies to all nations. The envoys will gather in Doha, Qatar, at the end of November for the annual round of talks aimed at hammering out the 2015 treaty.

“What is being discussed now is not something that will be equal obligations for all countries,” he said. Every country will have obligations that will be “different in the nature of the action.”

Durban talks

Last year in Durban, South Africa, the group agreed to work toward a treaty that would take affect in 2020 and will include legally binding targets for all nations. Under the current pact negotiated in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan, limits apply only to industrialised nations.

“You may imagine that industrial countries may have an obligation to reduce emissions in an absolute way by a specific year, and this would be legally binding,” he said.

Figueiredo said it’s essential for industrial nations to extend limits under the Kyoto pact for any progress to be made this year in Doha.

“It’s fundamental,” he said. “There will not be a result without an second commitment period.”

Bloomberg