* 2 degree limit should avoid worst climate change
* Potential political changes in U.S., China hinder progress
* Talks in Qatar could help convince Middle East oil giants
LONDON, Sept 11 (Reuters) - United Nations' climate talks
should continue pushing for more ambitious action to ensure
global warming is kept under 2 degrees, an EU climate negotiator
said on Tuesday, a month after the United States was accused of
backtracking on the goal.
Almost 200 nations agreed in 2010 to limit rising
temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F) above
pre-industrial times to avoid dangerous impacts from climate
change like floods, droughts and rising sea levels.
To slow the pace of global warming, last year's U.N.
climate talks in South Africa agreed to develop a new legally
binding global climate deal by 2015 which would come into force
no later than 2020.
However, experts have warned that the chance of limiting
global temperature rise to below 2 degrees is getting smaller as
global greenhouse gas emissions rise due to burning fossil
"It is very clear that we should push in the negotiations
that the (2 degree goal) is not enough. The reason we are not
doing enough is due to the political situation in some parts of
the world," Peter Betts, the UK's director of international
climate change and senior EU climate negotiator, told an
all-party climate change group at the UK Parliament.
Last month, the United States was criticised for saying it
supported a more flexible approach to a new climate deal - which
might not necessarily guarantee the 2 degree limit was met - but
it later added that flexibility would give the world a better
chance to agree on a new deal.
Several countries, including some of the most vulnerable to
climate change, have long said the 2 degree threshold is not
enough and a 1.5 degree limit would be safer.
Emissions of the main greenhouse gas carbon dioxide rose 3.1
percent in 2011 to a record high. China was the world's top
emitter, followed by the United States.
"The 2 degree goal is sensitive for China who needs more
than anyone else to achieve that goal, but they would say
privately they are not sure how to do that," Betts said.
Countries will meet in Doha, Qatar, at the end of November
for two weeks of talks to continue work on a new climate treaty.
A week of interim talks in Bangkok ended last week, with limited
progress on the main stumbling blocks.
Uncertainty about changes in political leadership in the
United States and China are making it unlikely that the most
difficult climate decisions will be made this year.
"The challenging economic environment in the past couple of
years has been a feeding ground for climate sceptics looking for
excuses not to go down the low-carbon route," said UK energy and
climate minister Greg Barker.
Holding this year's U.N. climate summit in Middle Eastern
oil producer Qatar may be "a bit bizarre" but could help to
convince other Middle Eastern oil giants of the benefits of
moving to a low-carbon economy, he added.
"Integrating this agenda with the mainstream oil and gas
economy, as we will be dependent on fossil fuels for many many
years to come, is sensible. I see Doha is an opportunity to
bring in countries who that have previously been antagonistic to
our agenda...particularly Saudi Arabia," Barker said.
Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, has repeatedly
been accused of blocking progress at past U.N. climate talks.
However, it announced plans in May to potentially build up
to 41,000 MW of solar power plants within two decades at an
estimated cost of over $100 billion.
"They do appreciate there are elements of this low-carbon
agenda they can sign up to and we need to find ways of bringing
people in," Barker said.
- Climate Change
- Nature & Environment
- climate change
- global warming