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Originally published Friday, November 20, 2009 at 12:15 AM

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U.N. climate meeting to 'yield a success'

The U.N. climate chief has a message for naysayers about the climate conference next month in Copenhagen, Denmark: It will succeed.

The Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. climate chief has a message for naysayers about the climate conference next month in Copenhagen, Denmark: It will succeed.

Yvo De Boer, the U.N. official who is shepherding the talks, said Thursday that the long-anticipated United Nations-led meeting Dec. 7-19 isn't a failure even before it's started. In large part, he said he was responding to news coverage that increasingly emphasized the longshot odds for a deal, particularly given the lack of U.S. commitment to any specific targets.

He vowed Copenhagen "will be the turning point" when words turn to action globally to begin reducing carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases and added that a fuller treaty can be worked out by six months after the meeting.

"There is no doubt in my mind that it will yield a success," de Boer said. "Almost every day now we see new commitments and pledges from both industrialized and developing countries."

He acknowledged that prospects for a binding global climate pact among 192 nations remain elusive less than three weeks before the start of the climate talks.

An authoritative U.N. panel of climate experts says developed countries must cut greenhouse-gas emissions between 25 and 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 to avoid a catastrophic rise in sea levels, harsher storms and climate disruptions.

The U.S. Congress is considering measures that would cut emissions either 17 percent or 20 percent from 2005 levels, the equivalent of at least 3.5 percent from 1990.

The U.S. and China account for about two-fifths of the world's greenhouse-gas emissions.

The European Union has said it will cut emissions 20 percent from 1990 levels by 2020 and would increase that to 30 percent if other regions also agree to major reductions. Russia and Japan are promising a 25 percent cut below 1990 levels over the same period.

Also Thursday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for all countries to fix binding climate-change targets next year. In a joint news conference at an EU leaders' summit in Brussels with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Merkel said the two leaders worried that ambitions for countries to agree on cuts to greenhouse-gas emissions at Copenhagen "seem to have shrunk."

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