Climate Talks: Leaders Beat About the Bush

World leaders on Friday rallied to a diplomatic offensive to forge a U.N. climate deal in Copenhagen next month and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said an agreement was "within reach".

Ban, and Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen who will host the December 7-18 U.N. climate talks, hailed what they portrayed as a growing international momentum toward a pact to curb greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming.

"Our common goal is to achieve a firm foundation for a legally binding climate treaty as early as possible in 2010. I am confident that we are on track to do this," Ban told a summit of Commonwealth leaders in Trinidad and Tobago.

"An agreement is within reach ... We must seal a deal in Copenhagen," Ban said. He, Rasmussen and French President Nicloas Sarkozy attended the summit of the 53-nation Commonwealth as special guests to lobby on Friday for international consensus on a climate pact.

Rasmussen said Denmark had received an "overwhelmingly positive" response to its invitation to world leaders to attend the talks next months. "More than 85 heads of state and government have told us they are coming to Copenhagen, and many are still positively considering," he said.

He urged major developed countries to deliver firm commitments on cutting greenhouse gas emissions and to "put figures on the table" for "up-front" financing to help poor nations combat climate change.

Rasmussen and Ban welcomed an earlier proposal by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown for the creation of a $10 billion-a-year fund to help developing countries battle the effects of global warming. Brown said such financing should be made available as early as next year, well before any new climate deal takes effect.

The climate treaty, now expected to be adopted as a final text only next year, will replace the Kyoto Protocol that expires in 2012.

Reuters has contributed to the report.

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