Official: Climate change treaty unlikely this year

Industrialized and developing countries are not likely to reach a treaty this year on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, which have sparked fears of weather-related disasters, the UN climate chief said Thursday.

Yvo de Boer, who announced last week he would resign July 1, said there was not enough time to recover from the disappointing summit in December in Copenhagen, where world leaders failed to agree on a legally binding climate pact.

Bickering between rich and poor countries over emissions cuts and financial assistance undermined the talks and forced them to settle on a voluntary plan.

"I think Copenhagen demonstrated that sometimes if you try and go too quickly, you actually achieve less progress," de Boer told The Associated Press in an interview.

De Boer spoke on the sidelinesof an annual UN conference of environmental ministers. The conference is being held on the Indonesia island of Bali, where de Boer oversaw a historic agreement to start climate talks in 2007.

More than 190 nations will reconvene in Cancun, Mexico, later this year for another attempt to reach a binding agreement to keep the Earth's average temperature from rising more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) above levels that existed before nations began industrializing in the late 18th century.

UN scientists have said any temperature rise above that figure could lead to catastrophic sea level rises threatening islands and coastal cities, the killing off of many species of animals and plants, and the alteration of agricultural economies of many countries.

De Boer said more time was needed to establish a framework of mitigation steps, along with financial and climate change aid that can convince developing countries to support a new deal.

He said the focus should shift toward reaching an agreement at a summit next year in South Africa before the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.