More than 1,000 diplomats began work on a new accord to control greenhouse gases. Developing countries asked for more money and expertise to help them fight the potentially catastrophic effects of global warming.
The 166 countries and organizations at a two-week meeting of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bonn are to negotiate key elements of a treaty to succeed the 10-year-old Kyoto Protocol, which set binding targets on industrial countries to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases believed to cause global warming.
The Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012, and delegates said a new accord should be in place within two years to move smoothly into a new regime of controls.
Ideas raised in Bonn will be put before a larger meeting in December in Bali, Indonesia.
The meeting followed a spate of reports this year by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, drawing on the studies of some 2,500 scientists, predicting dramatic consequences of global warming if swift action is not taken.
Its latest report, released Friday, said the means and technology exists to prevent the worst, provided governments move quickly to commit the resources.
German delegate Nicole Wilke, speaking for the European Union, told the conference's opening session that global carbon emissions should peak within 10 to 15 years, and afterward should move toward a 50 percent decrease.
She reiterated the EU's commitment to reduce emissions by 30 percent from 1990 levels by 2020, as long as other countries join in that target. At the very least, she said, Europe would slash emissions by 20 percent within 13 years.
Wilke called for expanding Europe's carbon trading market, allowing countries and industries to buy and sell carbon credits to give financial incentives for curbing emissions.
Pakistan, speaking on behalf of 77 developing countries plus China, put the onus on the industrial countries to increase funding and technology help.
Though the world faces a common goal, countries must meet them according to their "respective capabilities," Pakistani delegate Jamil Ahmad said. That meant deep emissions cuts by the developed world and helping less capable countries build their capacity to adapt to new weather conditions.
The industrial world must "move significantly beyond the current institutional and financial arrangements," Ahmad said.