The world can reach a significant new climate change pact by the end of 2009 if current talks keep up their momentum, the head of the United Nations climate panel said yesterday.

The United Nations began negotiations on a sweeping new pact in March after governments agreed last year to work out a treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol by the end of next year.

“If this momentum continues you will get an agreement that is not too full of compromises,” said Rajendra Pachauri, head of the UN Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change, during a seminar at the Asian Development Bank annual meeting in Madrid.

Without a deal to cap greenhouse gas emissions around 2015, then halve them by 2050, the world will face ever more droughts, heat waves, floods and rising seas, according to the UN panel.

The United Nations hopes to go beyond Kyoto by getting all countries to agree to curbs on emissions of greenhouse gases that fuel global warming.

Only 37 rich nations were bound to cut emissions under Kyoto. The United States, one of the world’s biggest polluters, refused to join the agreement.

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