By John McGarrity and Ben Garside
LONDON, May 11 (Reuters Point Carbon) - U.N. climate talks in Germany, which start on Monday, are at risk of making no progress on building a new climate regime as negotiators remain at odds about how to extend the Kyoto Protocol, raise up to $100 billion a year for poor countries and share the burden of future emissions cuts.
From May 14-26, negotiators will gather in Bonn to map out an agreement to force all countries to cut emissions from 2020 and hammer out the finer details on the rules governing a second Kyoto commitment period, including the controversial issue of banking unused emissions rights from the first phase.
"It's likely that we will see a restatement of previous positions or exploratory discussions on how to move things forward," said Wendel Trio, director of green group coalition CAN Europe.
"There's likely to be a lot of disagreement on timelines for negotiating a future climate treaty," he added, pointing to the EU's focus on discussing a post-2020 climate regime, which other countries, such as the U.S. and India, argue is premature.
The Bonn gathering is the first U.N. climate meeting since Durban hosted annual talks last December, where negotiators agreed to include all major emitters under a single framework from 2020 and extend legally-binding emission targets for a smaller group of rich countries under the Kyoto Protocol until at least 2017.
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Least developed countries (LDCs) will urge other nations to agree to limit an extension to the Kyoto Protocol to five years, rather than the eight years favoured by the EU.
"A longer commitment period would simply delay action, and the world's poorest and most vulnerable countries simply cannot afford for this to happen," the grouping of LDCs said in a statement.
The EU prefers an eight-year period up until 2020 to correlate with the bloc's own emissions targets and give countries time to hammer out the technical aspects of a deal, such as the use of new market mechanisms.
The Kyoto extension must be agreed before the current period expires this year but a decision is not expected until December's meeting in Doha, Qatar, because the issue is tied to a thornier debate over the vast surplus of Kyoto emission rights built up by former Soviet states.
"I don't think we should underestimate the risk of backtracking (in Bonn)," said Europe's Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard at an informal gathering of 30 climate ministers earlier this week.
The Bonn meeting includes a full day of talks on dozens of ideas submitted to the U.N. for new types of carbon markets designed to channel private sector cash into cutting CO2.
Durban opened the door for new initiatives such as slowing deforestation or capping emissions across entire industrial sectors in a Kyoto successor treaty, but poor nations argue richer ones should first set deeper targets to ensure demand for the ensuing carbon credits.
In return for agreeing to be legally bound to cut emissions under Kyoto 2, the EU wants other big emitters such as China and India to spell out how they will cut emissions after 2020.
This has fuelled suspicion in Beijing and Delhi that their economies will be railroaded into a regime of binding emissions cuts that would contravene the 1992 U.N. 'equity' principle that demands less of developing countries when it comes to emission cuts.
"We must respect the... principle, but we also have to make (the new pact) reflect the realities of the 21st century," the EU's Hedegaard said this week, adding that the "binary" framework in the Kyoto pact was stale, rigid and far too detached from the real economy.
India and China are already seething about the inclusion of their airlines in the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme from January, although this is unlikely to be raised formally at U.N. climate talks, according to a senior EU negotiator who asked not to be named because of official policy.
Yet both India and the U.S. have said in recent months that the issue could block progress, with Delhi particularly vocal, according to Hans Verolme, a Germany-based consultant who works for environmental groups including WWF.
"India is widely viewed to have bungled the Durban negotiations by giving up a strong reference to equity and the right to sustainable development," he said.
Green groups fear these procedural disputes mask the most important task among negotiators: to agree much tougher targets than the voluntary pledges to cut emissions tabled at the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009.
"We are wasting time we don't have," said Greenpeace's Tove Ryding, pointing to the most recent warnings about the impact that climate change could have on billions of people.
Last month the International Energy Agency warned the world could warm 6 degrees Celsius by the end of this century unless world leaders take urgent action to develop cleaner energy on a massive scale.
Such a warming, according to scientists, would cause widespread famine and flooding.
Meanwhile, countries that are most at risk will threaten to block other progress without seeing a step-up of efforts to funnelling cash to the Green Climate Fund.
Scaling up interim cash pledges expiring in 2013 has proved tricky among finance ministers in big donor countries as the EU grapples with its budget deficits, the U.S. awaits presidential elections and Japan copes with an energy crisis after last year's tsunami and nuclear meltdown.