(Alister Doyle, Reuters) – Bolivia’s president defended on Thursday draconian demands for rich nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2017, saying tougher action was needed to save “Mother Earth”.

Evo Morales said a U.N. climate pact should set a goal of quickly slashing such emissions and of limiting any rise in average world temperatures to 1 degree Celsius (1.8 F) above pre-industrial times — the toughest goals set by any nation.

“The debate will focus on stabilisation of the temperature and reductions in emissions,” the leftist Morales told a news conference during a visit to Oslo.

“What must steer this is reason,” he said of U.N. negotiations in 2010 that will culminate with a meeting of the world’s environment ministers in Cancun, Mexico, between Nov. 29 and Dec. 10. Morales said that “Mother Earth” is under threat.

Any U.N. deal would have to be adopted by unanimity, giving influence to nations such as Bolivia, which was among a handful of countries that blocked adoption of a non-binding deal to slow climate change at the U.N.’s Copenhagen summit in December.

Bolivia submitted a document to the United Nations last month that proposes emissions cuts for rich nations of 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2013-17 — far beyond any goals set by industrialised nations.

MERCURY RISES

Bolivia’s document also sets a goal of limiting any rise in global temperatures to 1 C. Many experts say the goal is out of reach — temperatures have risen by 0.7 C since before the Industrial Revolution and are set to rise further.

The United Nations estimates that planned curbs on greenhouse gas emissions so far would lead to a temperature rise of 3 C, beyond a goal of limiting them to below 2 C set in the non-binding Copenhagen Accord.

Even small island states and the poorest nations in Africa, among those vulnerable to threats such as desertification, floods, or rising sea levels, want a target — above Bolivia’s — of 1.5 C.

Morales said he was amenable to dialogue about his targets. But he said the conclusions of a people’s summit in Bolivia last month that set tough goals “should be taken into account.”

Bolivia’s texts add new radical proposals before the next round of U.N. talks in Bonn from May 31 to June 11, widening the splits between rich and poor that overshadowed Copenhagen.

Norwegian Environment Minister Erik Solheim said that Norway, like Bolivia, wanted an ambitious climate deal but that the views of all nations had to be taken into account.

“It is…important to reach an international agreement that is broad and to take consideration of the views of countries such as China and India,” he told a joint news conference.

The talks between Norway and Bolivia also focused on how Norway’s model for oil and gas production, with a strong state role, might give lessons for Bolivia, Solheim said.

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