Prospects of a global deal on climate change being reached at the Copenhagen conference in December receded on Tuesday after a crucial meeting of representatives of the world’s 17 major economies, including India and China, here failed to reach an agreement on two major sticking points - the developing countries’ insistence on a firm financial commitment from richer nations to help them cope with the effects of more climate-friendly policies; and the developed world’s demand for long-term cuts in greenhouse emissions.

Reflecting the mood of pessimism, Britain’s Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband admitted that it looked like an "uphill battle’’ to get a deal and warned that the Copenhagen talks would "fail’’ if a broad agreement was not reached before that.

"The truth is that if this is left to the negotiators in the formal negotiations, I think we'll fail," he said at the end of the two-day meeting of Major Economies Forum (MEF) whose members include India, China, Russia, America, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, the European Union, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Mexico and South Africa.

The Forum was launched by US President Barack Obama earlier this year to help break the deadlock over a new global climate treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol which expires in 2012

The warning was echoed by Todd Stern, American special envoy on climate change. He said it was "certainly possible" that there would be no deal in Copenhagen.

"What we need to have happen is for China and India and Brazil and South Africa and others to be willing to take what they're doing ( in terms of emission curs), boost it up some, and then be willing to put it into an international agreement," he said.

In a communiqué, issued after the talks, the Forum said that there was "substantial’’ agreement that "significantly scaled up financing will be important’’. But the developing nations failed to obtain a commitment over the scale of Western contribution.

Mr Stern said "more progress’’ needed to be made to reach an agreement.

Campaigners such as Friends of the Earth insisted that it was up to the rich countries in the MEF to "face up to their legal and moral responsibility by agreeing to cut their emissions first and fastest".

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