Best of our wild blogs: 20 Jun 12

Checking out corals and seagrasses at Sentosa
from wild shores of singapore and Peiyan.Photography

A rambling naturalist
from The annotated budak and No Soft Spots and Toad Ho!

Fledgling Pacific Swallows
from Urban Forest

Random Gallery - Arhopala aurea
from Butterflies of Singapore

blue-throated bee-eater on road @ turut track - June 2012
from sgbeachbum

The Living Planet Report 2012
from EcoWalkthetalk

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Rio +20: World faces mass extinction of wildlife, UN warns

The world faces a mass extinction of wildlife, according to the latest assessment of endangered animals by the United Nations.
Louise Gray The Telegraph 19 Jun 12;

The so-called Red List, that is updated regularly, has grown even bigger despite efforts worldwide so save species like tigers, Pandas and blue fin tuna.

The latest assessment brings the total up to 19,817 of 63,837 species assessed.

At threat are 41 percent of amphibian species, 33 percent of reef-building corals, 25 percent of mammals, 20 percent of plants and 13 percent of birds.

The new list comes as world leaders gather in Rio for the biggest ever UN summit on sustainable development 20 years after the original Earth Summit in 1992.

More than 190 countries are trying to draw up a new agreement that would stop destruction of habitat and protect the world’s remaining plants and animals.However at the moment the text on the table is too vague to stop destruction of habitat, according to organisations like the WWF.

Julia Marton-Lefevre, head of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), that compiles the list, said the summit is the best hope to stop the loss of species.

She pointed out that many of these plants and animals are essential for humans, providing food and work and a gene pool for better crops and new medicines.

"The findings are a clarion call to world leaders gathering in Rio to secure the web of life on this planet," she said.

The Red List is updated each year or more. The 2012 count of threatened species is unchanged from 2011, except for birds, where the proportion is 0.5 percent higher.

New information found that snakes, including the King Cobra, Asia’s largest venomous serpent, are increasingly threatened by hunting for meat, skin and the pet trade.

Endangered Species 'Red List' Update Showcases Biodiversity Threats
OurAmazingPlanet 19 Jun 12;

The most widely recognized list of the world's endangered and threatened species got its latest update today (June 19), with nearly a third of all the species examined being classified as threatened with extinction.

The latest update of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species showing that of the 63,837 species examined worldwide, 19,817 are threatened with extinction — nearly a third of the total. The group found that 41 percent of amphibian species are threatened, as well as 33 percent of reef building corals and 25 percent of mammals.

The list was released on the eve of the United Nation's Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

"Sustainability is a matter of life and death for people on the planet," said Julia Marton-Lefèvre, director general of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. "A sustainable future cannot be achieved without conserving biological diversity — animal and plant species, their habitats and their genes — not only for nature itself, but also for all 7 billion people who depend on it. The latest IUCN Red List is a clarion call to world leaders gathering in Rio to secure the web of life on this planet."

The updated list found a wide variety of species to be newly threatened or endangered. Many of them are not the charismatic faces often used to promote conservation, but they are extremely valuable to the habitats they dwell in and the people that depend on those habitats. [Gallery: Species on Endangered 'Red List']

An important food source, freshwater fish are facing threats from unsustainable fishing practices and habitat destruction caused by pollution and the construction of dams globally. A quarter of the world's inland fisheries are located on the African continent, yet 27 percent of freshwater fish in Africa are threatened, including the Oreochromis karongae, an extremely important source of food in the Lake Malawi region that has been severely overfished.

Some ocean fish are also in trouble, which is problematic for the large percentage of people worldwide who survive and earn their income from fishing. Yet overfishing has reduced some commercial fish stocks by over 90 percent. More than a third of skates and rays are threatened with extinction including the commercially valuable Leopard Ray, the IUCN said in a statement.

More than 275 million people are dependent on coral reefs for food, but 55 percent of reef fisheries are over-harvested. The new list also found that 18 percent of groupers, an economically important family of large reef fish, are threatened.

Production of at least one third of the world's food, including 87 of the 113 leading food crops, depends on pollination carried out by insects, bats and birds. According to the IUCN Red List, 16 percent of Europe's endemic butterflies are threatened. Bats, which are also important pollinators, are also at risk with 18 percent threatened globally. The update shows that four members of the hummingbird family, which is known for its pollination services, are now at greater risk of extinction. Besides being important pollinators, bats and birds also help to control insect populations that may otherwise destroy crops and spread disease.

"The services and economic value that species provide are irreplaceable and essential to our wellbeing," said Jon Paul Rodríguez, with the IUCN Species Survival Commission. "Unless we live within the limits set by nature, and manage our natural resources sustainably, more and more species will be driven towards extinction. If we ignore our responsibility we will compromise our own survival."

The update also found 13 percent of birds and 30 percent of conifer species to be threatened.

Bivalve mollusks and many wetland plants carry out water filtration services to provide clean water. In Africa 42 percent of all freshwater mollusks are globally threatened, while in Europe the figure is 68 percent.

Red List counts 'on the brink' species
Richard Black BBC News 19 Jun 12;

East Asia's status as the world's main "extinction hotspot" is confirmed in the new Red List of Threatened Species.

Snakes such as the king cobra, the world's largest venomous serpent, are increasingly threatened by hunting for meat, skin and the pet trade.

The Red List was unveiled at the Rio+20 sustainable development meeting.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which compiles the list, says it shows the importance of nature for human wellbeing.

One of the themes of the Rio meeting, which comes 20 years after the iconic Earth Summit here, is the "green economy" - an economy that uses the services nature provides more wisely, and safeguards them.

"A sustainable future cannot be achieved without conserving biological diversity, not only for nature itself but also for all seven billion people who depend on it," said IUCN director-general Julia Marton-Lefevre.

"The latest Red List is a clarion call to world leaders gathering in Rio to secure the web of life on this planet."

Two thousand new species have been assessed for this edition of the Red List, bringing the total to 63,837.

Overall, the statistics are little changed: 41% of amphibians, 33% of reef-building corals, 25% of mammals and 13% of birds languish on the risk list.

While the biggest threat globally is loss of habitat, the picture for the newly assessed East Asian snakes is somewhat different.

Rapid economic growth and consequent demand for natural resources are putting increased pressure on mammals, plants, reptiles and amphibians across the region.

But for the snakes, deliberate harvesting for food, medicine, skin and the pet trade emerges as a serious issue.

"Paradoxically, the conversion of forest to oil palm plantations, which is so bad for many species, seems to be quite good for some snakes," said Craig Hilton-Taylor, manager of IUCN's Red List Unit.

"That's why a lot of trade is coming from those areas," he told BBC News.

"As long as it's controlled and kept sustainable, that's fine; but once the demand for snakes starts moving into their native habitat, that's a problem."
Snub news

Dr Hilton-Taylor also highlighted the listing of new Asian primates including the Myanmar snub-nosed monkey, which has straightaway gained a Critically Endangered rating.

"It was only described last year - in fact, very few people have seen it; in fact it's really known only from camera traps," he said.

The new list includes a number of plants that have been over-harvested for fruit that are used in food and medicine, including two species of turmeric and one of ginger.

The Rio+20 summit is not directly concerned with nature protection - that is the job of other UN organisations such as the Convention on Biological Diversity.

But its focus is on making development more sustainable, urging governments to measure "natural capital", the money locked up in forests, water, plants and animals.

Pollination of plants, for example, is estimated to be worth $200bn to the global economy each year - and as IUCN notes, numbers of some pollinating animals including some bees, bats and birds are falling.

Just before the meeting started, IUCN released its assessment of Amazonian birds, which moved 100 species from lower classes of threat (such as Vulnerable) to higher classes (Endangered or Critically Endangered).

See also IUCN Securing the Web of Life

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Zero tolerance for animals that don't fit into our lifestyle has to change

Straits Times Forum 20 Jun 12;

I AM dismayed by last Saturday's report ('NParks defends wild boar decision') and the letter from the National Parks Board ('Why wild boars have to be culled: They destroy forests'), which suggested that the way to deal with Singapore's wild boar population is to kill them.

These wild boars live in a protected nature reserve.

In the name of progress, we have been pushing indigenous flora and fauna to extinction or to the outskirts of subsistence.

Our zero tolerance for plants and animals that do not fit into our lifestyle has to change if we claim to be environmentally and culturally advanced.

Already we cull crows because we deem these intelligent birds a menace. Now wild boars are deemed a menace.

Wild boars do not attack people unless they are provoked, manhandled or threatened - much like house pets.

Respect wildlife and nature while we still have the privilege. Culling is not a solution when this group of home-grown wild boars has managed to set up home in our nature reserve despite the odds.

If we must intrude into their peaceful existence in an area that was created to protect them, why not explore sterilisation first?

Katarina Tan (Ms)
(This letter carries 33 other names)

Sterilise wild boars, don't cull them
Straits Times Forum 20 Jun 12;

IT IS reassuring that the National Parks Board (NParks) will take a holistic approach towards managing the wild boar population ('NParks defends wild boar decision' and 'Why wild boars have to be culled'; June 16).

The reappearance of the wild boar thought to be extinct in mainland Singapore is a valuable addition to our biodiversity, and the impact on our forests is beneficial.

While the main diet of wild boars is vegetation, they also feed on earthworms, snails, insect larvae and small rodents. They control weeds, improve soil aeration, fertility and structure, and unearth dormant seeds that will germinate and contribute to botanical diversity.

In the forested ecosystem, their impact on plant density is short-lived as re-vegetation takes place. The wild boar population is density-dependent and not just controlled by predators such as leopards and tigers in a natural system. How was the census taken on the size of the herd in the Lower Peirce area?

What were the research protocols set on the prediction of population growth that led to the conclusion that the boar density is now at least 10 times above natural levels?

Does it mean we will have to cull 90 per cent of the herd?

If the population is indeed surging and needs to be managed, culling is not the solution.

NParks should consider alternatives such as contraception. As male boars are generally solitary, it may be easier to capture and neuter them in the first phase of sterilisation.

To deter wild boars from venturing beyond the nature reserves to forage at night, introduce supplementary and diversionary feeding.

Maize and coconuts are readily available and can be used to lure and keep the boars feeding within the reserves. Boars are short-sighted and shy, and tend to avoid people. People and dogs should detour around a boar at a safe distance. Boars do not charge and attack people and there are scant reports of such encounters.

In fact, wild boars are known to be non-aggressive and have even been promoted as tourist attractions in publicly accessible forested reserves.

Public areas where a stray boar is likely to dig can be paved with concrete slabs.

I urge the NParks not to cull the boars. They are our valuable wildlife and deserve to be protected by every means at our disposal.

Irene Low (Ms)

Snapped in the neighbourhood
Straits Times Forum 20 Jun 12;

Ms Ravi snapped this picture of wild boars rummaging in an undisclosed neighbourhood some six months ago. -- PHOTO: CHRISTINE BERNADETTE RAVI

I HAVE encountered wild boars on the streets while taking part in a street dog project, where we feed and sterilise street dogs to prevent their population from growing ('Why wild boars have to be culled'; last Saturday).

The wild boars are calm, gentle and extremely good-natured. In fact, many of them share their meals with the street dogs we feed. I remain unconvinced that they will harm the public.

Christine Bernadette Ravi (Ms)

Periodic culling important
Straits Times Forum 20 Jun 12;

I AGREE that wild boars must be culled ('Why wild boars have to be culled'; last Saturday). I once visited a nature reserve in Queensland, Australia, whose land area was thrice the size of Singapore.

Other than the wallabies in the park, there were three other main types of wild animals - wild boars, wild horses and wild cattle.

The park's rangers monitored the wild animal population and conducted periodic culling because these creatures were not only destroying nature, but were also potential carriers of anthrax and other deadly diseases.

Wong Yin Seng

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Singapore: Heat stroke cases increase with rising temperatures

Kheng Leng/Alice Chia Channel NewsAsia 19 Jun 12;

SINGAPORE: More people in Singapore are suffering from symptoms of heat exhaustion as temperatures go up, with the average temperature in May and June expected to be higher than previous years according to the Meteorological Service Singapore.

For the coming weeks, the maximum temperature is expected to range between 32 and 34 degree Celsius. Average rainfall is also showing signs of decreasing -- only 42 millimetres of rain has fallen to date, only about a quarter compared to the 162mm of rainfall recorded in previous years during the same period.

One hospital says it has seen 19 heat stroke patients in the first half of this year, compared to at least 25 for the whole of last year. The Changi General Hospital said most heat stroke patients are young people such as national servicemen and athletes in long-distance runs.

"May is perhaps the first month that it gets significantly hot in Singapore. It is the transition between spring and summer, so to speak," Dr Benny Goh, senior consultant at Changi General Hospital said.

"There is less chance for people to become acclimatised to the increase in heat, and because of the lack of acclimatisation, they get heat disorders."

Symptoms of heat disorders include giddiness, nausea and fatigue.

- CNA/wm

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Malaysia: Hotspots in Sumatra doubles, public advised not to stay out for long

Cavina Lim The Star 19 Jun 12;

THE public has been advised to stay indoors with the Air Pollutant Index (API) in George Town hitting the ‘unhealthy’ category at 101.

State Health, Welfare, Caring Society and Environmental Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said the public should also keep themselves hydrated and seek medical treatment should they suffer from eye irritation as a result of the ‘unhealthy’ air situation.

“The API level in the state has gone above 100, which is unhealthy.

“The public should not stay outdoors too long and they should drink more water,” he said.

He added due to the worsening haze situation here, the state government will distribute face masks to schoolchildren in the primary schools here today.

“The assemblymen will distribute the masks either through the Village Security and Development Committees or the Parent-Teacher Associations.

“We may also distribute masks to the public,” he said.

Phee said the northwest monsoon wind was bringing the haze from Indonesia to peninsular Malaysia.

It was reported yesterday that the Department of Environment found that the recorded pollution in the air was made of particulate matter, also known as PM10.

At 7am yesterday, the API reading recorded in Seberang Jaya was 98 and at 11am, the reading hit the ‘unhealthy’ category at 101. (The ‘unhealthy’ category begins at an API reading of 101).

The reading eventually dropped to 96 at 5pm.

In Prai, the API status recorded 85 at 7am and increased four points at 11am. At 5pm, the API reading returned to 85.

Over on the island, the haze had slightly improved with the reading recorded at 85 at 7am and later dropping to 79 at 5pm.

A check with the Malaysian Meteorological Department showed that visibility which started at 3km (8am to 3pm) on the mainland improved to 4km at 4pm and later became 5km from 5pm to 6pm.

Visibility in Bayan Lepas also improved when it was at 4km (8am to noon), then improved to 5km (1pm to 2pm) and finally to 6km at 3pm.

However, visibility dropped slightly to 5km from 4pm to 6pm.

The total number of hotspots had increased to 310 in Sumatra as recorded by the NOAA-18 satellite as of 4.05pm yesterday, compared to 163 hotspots as of 4.14pm on Sunday June 17.

Meanwhile, Penang International Airport senior airport manager Mohd Arif Jaafar said there were no cancellation of flights due to the haze.

Air quality improves despite hazy skies
The Star 20 Jun 12;

KUALA LUMPUR: Despite hazy skies, moderate air quality was recorded in most places nationwide, said the Department of Environment (DOE).

It said the Air Pollution Index (API) at 46 of 50 stations nationwide recorded moderate air quality while the remaining four registered good air quality as at 5pm yesterday.

The haze is still present in northern and central Sumatra coastline, the Malacca Straits and the west coast of northern states of peninsula Malaysia.

DOE said the major cause of the drop in air quality was the drifting haze from Sumatra.

Satellite images released by the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre showed hot spots in Sumatra had risen to 310 from 163 the previous day.

DOE has activated the National Haze Action Plan and the Open Burning Prevention Action Plan in all states as well as implementing its Standard Operating Procedures in monitoring the air quality nationwide.

Open burning has been banned in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putra­jaya.

Members of the public are urged to report bush fire and open burning to the Fire and Rescue Department at 999 or DOE at 1-800-88-2727. — Bernama

Thai South Affected By Indonesia's Haze
Bernama 19 Jun 12;

BANGKOK, June 19 (Bernama) -- Thailand's Southern Meteorological Centre (East Coast) in Songkhla province reported on Monday that the southwest monsoon covering the southern Thai region currently could bring with it haze from annual forest fires on the Sumatra Island in Indonesia.

The centre's director Wanchai Sakudomchai, told journalists that satellite images showed there were some 163 hot spots on the Sumatra Island and the prevailing southwest monsoon wind appeared to have brought the smog to several southern Thai areas.

Songkhla, for instance, has been covered by thick haze in early morning over the past days, before gradually fading a few hours later, Thai News Agency (TNA) reported.

Wanchai said he has instructed local officials to closely monitor satellite updates and timely warn people in areas at risk of possible impacts from either more hot spots in Indonesia or stronger southwest monsoon wind.


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Australia: Queensland to outlaw dugong-hunt cruelty

ABC News 20 Jun 12;

Animal activists have welcomed moves by the Queensland Government to outlaw hunting-related cruelty to dugongs and turtles.

Under the Native Title Act, traditional owners are allowed to hunt turtles and dugongs.

Footage aired on the ABC in March showed animals being butchered alive by some Indigenous hunters and sparked an investigation into the practice.

Queensland Fisheries Minister John McVeigh yesterday introduced legislation into Parliament to outlaw any unreasonable pain being inflicted during hunting.

The RSPCA's Michael Beatty says the Government should be commended.

"No-one thinks - including the Indigenous leaders - that this type of cruelty, if you like, is necessary," he said.

Mr Beatty says authorities need to continue to work with traditional owners.

"It isn't simply a case of just outlawing it, it really isn't that simple because obviously it has to be policed as well," he said.

But animal activist Colin Riddell says the hunting should be banned altogether.

"People flock to Australia to see our Great Barrier Reef and see those beautiful animals and I fear for the day that my children, your children don't get to see those animals," he said.

Native title hunting rights would not be extinguished by the Bill.

Qld govt toughens dugong anti-cruelty laws
9News 19 Jun 12;

Traditional hunting of turtles and dugongs will no longer be exempt from animal cruelty laws in Queensland.

Agriculture Minister John McVeigh introduced legislation to state parliament on Tuesday to make dugong and turtle hunters meet animal welfare standards.

The changes fulfil an LNP election promise made after the ABC aired footage of hunters cutting the flippers off a turtle lying struggling on its back.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Minister Glen Elmes says the government will work with indigenous communities to ensure the new standards are met.

"All Queenslanders will now have the same animal welfare obligations and it's important every Queenslander understands animal cruelty is never acceptable," he said.

Dugongs and turtles are protected species but some indigenous groups have the right to continue traditional hunting of the animals.

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Palm oil for India 'destroying Indonesian forests'

AFP Yahoo News 19 Jun 12;

Surging demand for palm oil in India for cooking and everyday grocery items is driving tropical forest destruction in Indonesia, Greenpeace said Tuesday.

In its report "Frying the Forest" the group called on Indians to boycott products by brands Britannia, ITC, Parle and Godrej, such as biscuits and soap, until the companies commit to sustainable palm oil supply chains.

"Palm oil plantations in Indonesia are expanding rapidly every year to meet India's demands," Greenpeace forest campaigner Mohammed Iqbal Abisaputra said in Jakarta.

"We are asking Indian consumers now to stop buying products made from unsustainable Indonesian palm oil."

Booming India is the world's hungriest nation for palm oil, consuming almost 7.4 million tonnes last year, or 15 percent of global production, almost all of it imported, US Foreign Agricultural Service data show.

Of that amount, 5.8 million tonnes is imported from Indonesian companies, many of which Greenpeace claims are illegally clearing carbon-rich peatland.

One company targeted by the group is Duta Palma, which owns 155,000 hectares of palm oil plantations in Indonesia, the report says.

The company is deforesting peatland up to eight metres deep on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo, the report says, despite a law banning the clearance of peatland more than three metres deep.

Greenpeace also claims fires continue to burn on peatland within the company's concession, even though the slash-and-burn technique for forest clearance is illegal.

The report comes after a string of successful consumer-targeted Greenpeace campaigns, in which brands like Barbie-maker Mattel and food-maker Kraft dropped paper packaging contracts with Asia Pulp & Paper, who were accused of logging outside their concession area.

The focus on India marks a shift in Greenpeace's strategy to consumers in developing countries.

"Asian countries will be among the first to feel the effects of climate change, so we can no longer act as if it's Europe or America's problem," Abisaputra said.

Indonesia has implemented a two-year moratorium on issuing new logging concessions on peatland and other high-conservation forest. But unsustainable logging continues within companies' existing concessions.

Before the moratorium, 80 percent of Indonesia's greenhouse gas emissions came from deforestation, UN data show, making it the world's third-biggest emitter.

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Diplomats agree on "weak" text for Rio+20 summit

Nina Chestney and Valerie Volcovici Reuters Yahoo News 20 Jun 12;

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Diplomats from over 190 countries agreed on a draft text on green global development on Tuesday to be approved this week at a summit in Rio de Janeiro, but environmentalists complained the agreement was too weak.

The summit, known as Rio+20, was supposed to hammer out aspirational, rather than mandatory sustainable development goals across core areas like food security, water and energy, but the draft text agreed upon by diplomats failed to define those goals or give clear timetables toward setting them.

It is "telling that nobody in that room adopting the text was happy. That's how weak it is," the European Union's climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard said on social network Twitter.

The text "has too much 'take note' and 'reaffirm' and too little 'decide' and 'commit'. (The) big task now for U.N. nations to follow up" on this, she added.

Expectations were low for the summit because politicians' attention is more focused on the euro zone crisis, a presidential election in the United States and turmoil in the Middle East than on the environment.

The first Rio Earth summit in 1992 paved the way for a global treaty on biodiversity, and the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gases, which is due to expire this year. The Rio+20 moniker is a nod to the 1992 summit.

Heads of state and ministers, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Francois Hollande and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, will meet with diplomats representing other nations from Wednesday for three days to discuss the text and possibly make some changes to its wording.

Observers do not expect major amendments.

U.S. special envoy for climate change, Todd Stern, told reporters on Tuesday he did not expect the document to change much after heads of state meet to discuss it.

"We don't have anything that we are expecting to try to drive into the document that is not there yet," he said.


Environmental groups criticized the text, saying it omitted or watered down important proposals and challenged heads of state to act urgently to respond to climate change.

"This summit could be over before it's started. World leaders arriving tonight must start afresh. Rio+20 should be a turning point," said Oxfam spokesman Stephen Hale.

"There's no sign of that here. Almost a billion hungry people deserve better."

The draft text omitted a clause calling for governments to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, which have nearly tripled since 2009, despite a pledge by G20 countries to eliminate them.

Phasing out fossil fuel subsidies by 2020 would reduce annual global energy demand by 5 percent and carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 6 percent, according to the International Energy Agency.

Oil producing countries, including Venezuela and Canada, blocked inclusion of the clause, despite a huge social media push on Monday to include phase-out language in the text, with over 100,000 tweets on Twitter with the hashtag #endfossilfuelsubsidies.

An eagerly awaited decision on a governance structure for the high seas was also postponed for three years, after the United States, Japan, Canada, Russia and Venezuela opposed strong language to implement it.

"There's no commitment - it's like telling your girlfriend you promise to decide in three years whether or not to decide, whether or not to get married," said Susanna Fuller of the High Seas Alliance, a coalition of NGOs.


Others were slightly more optimistic.

"The document represents a positive step forward. While it is not the major breakthrough we had 20 years ago it puts us on the pathway to sustainable development," Selwyn Hart, diplomat for Barbados, told Reuters.

"The formal negotiations might be over but (leaders here tomorrow) need to focus on the implementation of some of the central issues dealt with in the document," he added.

Separately, in a meeting of big-city mayors at an old fortress in Rio, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and colleagues from around the world sought to show how cities, can make progress even if a multi-national agreement isn't possible.

Cities are responsible for up to three-quarters of global greenhouse gases.

Measures already underway in major cities, the mayors said, are on track to reduce their combined emission of greenhouse gases by 248 million tons by 2020, an amount equal to the current annual emissions of Mexico and Canada together.

The measures, the mayors said, include everything from better waste management to more efficient lighting, and would include biofuel and electric-powered municipal transport.

Noting the sluggish pace of the multi-national negotiations, Bloomberg said cities "aren't arguing with each other. We're going out there and making progress."

(This story was corrected to show U.S. was not among countries blocking clause on fossil fuel subsidies)

(Additional reporting by Paulo Prada; editing by Todd Eastham)

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