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UN Chief Reports on Progress Towards Possible Climate Change Deal Later This Year

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Countries responsible for more than four fifths of global emissions of greenhouse gases have now backed the accord that emerged from last year's climate change summit in Copenhagen, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said here Tuesday, saying this is a critical step forward towards the next major gathering on the subject.

"I am pleased to note that 110 countries representing more than 80 percent of global emissions have expressed support for the Copenhagen Accord," Ban told a press conference at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, referring to the non-binding agreement reached at last December's summit in the Danish capital. "This is an important advance towards Cancun."

The UN-backed talks are slated to take place in Cancun, Mexico in November, with the aim of striking a global, binding deal on climate change.

Ban reiterated on Tuesday that the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will spearhead international negotiations on climate change ahead of the Cancun summit.

"The United Nations will continue to lead while closely coordinating with Member States," he said.

The next formal round of climate change talks will be held next month in Bonn, Germany, leading to the Cancun gathering.

In preparation for the conference in Cancun, the secretary- general said the UN is working closely with the Mexican government and is engaged in small group meetings as part of "confidence- building process."

He also suggested that the UNFCCC may try to have at least two or three more working group meetings before the gathering in Cancun.

The secretary-general's support for addressing climate change comes one week after he announced an independent and comprehensive review of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a UN-backed climate body whose 2007 global assessment report has recently faced criticism over a miscalculation in the rate of Himalayan glacier melt and other errors.

"I am encouraged by the response of governments, scientific institutions and environmental activists to the launch of the independent review of the IPCC," the secretary-general said.

Last week, at the launch of the review, Ban said that while there were "a very small number of errors" in the report, he has " seen no credible evidence that challenges the main conclusions" of the publication.

(Xinhua News Agency March 17, 2010)