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Citizens not pushing hard for climate deal: U.N. chief

By Nina Chestney

LONDON (Reuters) - Ordinary people are not putting enough pressure on governments to deliver a legally binding deal on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, the U.N.'s climate chief said.

"There is not enough well up from the bottom up. I don't see millions of citizens demanding climate action," Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, said at a lecture on Friday.

"The reality we have to deal with is the process is very slow and the urgency is every day growing. The only way out is to continue to push on the government side but we can't depend 100 percent on governments because they can't deliver the 100 percent."

After years of talks on a new deal to cut greenhouse gas emissions, countries from around the globe agreed last December in Durban to forge a new deal by 2015 forcing all the biggest polluters for the first time to limit pollution.

Some critics were disappointed with the deal, which would not come into force until 2020, saying it was too late to avoid the catastrophic effects of climate change.

Countries should start work in May in Bonn on a plan towards getting a legally binding deal by 2015, Figueres told reporters.

"They will hopefully look at the workplan from now to 2015 so they can identify the milestones they would want to have reached each year," she said.

The content and shape of such milestones will be up to countries to decide, she added.

FUND WITH NO MONEY

Countries had to submit proposals by February 28 on ways of raising the level of mitigation targeted under the so-called Durban Platform, although most submissions were late.

India, China and some other countries maintained the idea of "common but differentiated responsibilities", which puts most of the onus on developed countries to cut emissions as they were historically more responsible for global warming.

The United States in particular is against this principle as it does not want heavily emitting developing countries to exempt themselves from legally binding mitigation measures.

"That concept is very central to the convention. I don't think the convention will ever really progress without that principle but it is very clear the moment has come to really understand that principle in the context which we committed," said Figueres.

"The commitment countries made to themselves is to make an agreement by 2015 to go into effect by 2020 - with the participation of all and applicable to all - not an agreement to be reached by 2020."

One of the other advances made in Durban was on the design of a Green Climate Fund, which would help channel up to $100 billion a year to help developing countries adapt to climate change.

The fund still has no money in it.

"No one has come through specifically with any numbers yet and my sense is those governments who are willing to contribute to the startup costs (this year) are identifying the sources of that finance and waiting for the board to be constituted, the deadline for which is at end of this month," Figueres said.

(Reporting by Nina Chestney; Editing by Anthony Barker)

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