A global agreement to curb carbon emissions is possible at an upcoming U.N. climate conference but hinges on the efforts and political will of countries, the U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern said Friday in Beijing.
"It's incumbent on all of us working in this area to try to bend all efforts over the course of the next few weeks to find compromises and language necessary to get a deal," he said.
Stern was in China for two days of talks with his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua about the climate conference in Cancun as well as bilateral cooperation on climate change issues.
The United States and China, the world's two largest carbon emitters, have repeatedly clashed over key components of an international treaty aimed at curbing the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, most recently at U.N. climate talks in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin earlier this month.
Stern said he is aware time is running short before the climate conference starts at the end of November. However, "it's not a big mystery what kinds of provisions could help produce an agreement. There's a question of political will among the different players on how to get there," he said.
Rich and poor nations have remained at odds over how to split the burden of emission cuts and how to verify them.
The U.S. wants China and other developing countries to commit to mandatory curbs and submit to international verification. Meanwhile, China says the U.S. and other wealthy countries should make bigger cuts in their emissions, reflecting their larger historical contribution to greenhouse gases.
Most countries already say they believe a binding treaty is out of reach at this year's conference but are working on smaller deals that can lay the foundation for a legal framework that could be approved later, possibly in South Africa in 2011.
Stern said his meetings with Xie were "quite constructive," but gave few specifics on whether the two sides had made progress in areas of disagreement.
The long-running, U.N.-brokered climate negotiations are intended to find a replacement for the Kyoto Protocol, which mandated modest emissions reductions and expires in 2012.