The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia, is off to an "encouraging start," a senior UN official dealing with the issue has said, citing the decision by participating countries to establish a group that will determine the key elements of a long-term cooperative plan of action to address climate change.
The group, which will be open to all 192 countries of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), will present its decisions on the launch of negotiations on a post-2012 climate change regime to the ministers who will meet during the second week of the conference.
The current regime, called the Kyoto Protocol, expires in 2012.
A statement from the UN Information Centre in Accra on Wednesday said UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer said the establishment of the group was an "encouraging signal" which put in motion a mechanism to reach an agreement in Bali.
He explained that the group would decide which topics would be the subject of negotiations and when those negotiations would be completed.
Discussions in the group will be led by Australia and South Africa.
The statement said countries also agreed on a mechanism that could speed the transfer of technology that developing countries saw as essential for addressing climate change.
"While the issue has been considered in the past in talks under the Climate Change treaty, States will now discuss concrete concerns on how to make it happen" it said.
The statement said the decision came as concerns were raised by developing countries that attention in Bali was too focused on a future agreement that would enter into force in 2013, while previous commitments to assist developing countries under the existing Convention and Protocol had been largely forgotten.
It said discussions to address deforestation also advanced with Kishan Kumar-Singh, the Chair of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice, the UN body in which talks and negotiations on the issue were conducted, saying there was agreement that methodologies and tools for estimating emissions must be developed or made available and that pilot projects on deforestation should be launched in developing countries.
Mr Kumar-Singh said forests played a key role in addressing climate change as they absorbed carbon that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere.
Between 1990 and 2005, 13 million hectares disappeared every year due to deforestation.
He said deforestation was the second largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and causes up to 20 per cent of global greenhouse gas.