BONN, Germany (Reuters) - U.N. talks have run out of time to meet a December 2012 deadline to put in place a binding successor to the Kyoto Protocol on curbing greenhouse gas emissions, the U.N.'s top climate official said on Monday.
To decide new targets with equal legal force to Kyoto, countries would have to ratify them in national parliaments, said Christiana Figueres, head of the U.N.'s climate secretariat.
That is now considered impossible given that the earliest a deal could be agreed would be at the end of this year, in Durban. Even that timetable is widely viewed as unlikely, said Figueres.
"Even if they were able to agree on a legal text for a second commitment period (of Kyoto) that requires an amendment to the Kyoto Protocol, it requires legislative ratifications on the part of three quarters of the parties, so we would assume that there's no time to do that between Durban and the end of 2012," she told reporters.
"Countries have realized this, that they actually stand before the potential of a regulatory gap, and are involved in constructive negotiations as to how they're going to deal with that," she said on the first day of June 6-17 climate talks in Bonn, Germany.
(Reporting by Gerard Wynn, Editing by Janet Lawrence)