Climate talks see progress on dispute

Delegates at a key U.N. climate conference made headway Friday on a plan to encourage developing countries to regulate carbon emissions by focusing on their largest industries.

The emerging plan sidesteps objections from countries like India and China, which refuse to accept national targets for the overall emission of the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.

How to get developing countries to commit to reducing pollution levels has deeply divided countries seeking to craft an agreement to succeed the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

The meeting of 1,600 delegates and environmentalists from 160 countries was the third conference this year on the accord, to be adopted in December 2009.

Participants also discussed ways to integrate conservation of the world's ever-shrinking forests into the agreement, and studied ways to raise and distribute tens of billions of dollars needed annually to help poor countries deal with consequences of climate change.

Under the Kyoto pact, only 37 industrial countries committed to meet specific targets. Together, they were required to cut emissions by an average 5percent from 1990 levels by 2012. The U.S. refused to participate because the Kyoto pact excluded China and other large, newly powerful economies from obligation.

Under the “sectoral approach” now taking shape, developing countries would set pollution targets for specific industries that likely would not be punished for missing goals.

“People are now talking about the same idea in the same language,” said David Doniger of the National Resources Defense Council.

India voiced reservations, but did not reject the concept. As for China, Doniger said the plan fit with Beijing's intention to increase efficiency of its key industries, which produce the bulk of its carbon emissions.