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It is a giant travelling circus that has spent 20 years touring some of the world’s most exotic locations — Bali, Marrakesh, Barcelona, Rio, Buenos Aires — all at taxpayers’ expense.

But the good times may soon be over for the 20,000 people who attend the annual climate change summit because the Government wants to reduce its carbon footprint by choosing a permanent location.

The proposal will prompt an international squabble over which city should win the right to host all future Conferences of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

More than half of those who attend come from Europe and, with flights contributing more than 80 per cent of each summit’s carbon footprint, a European city might seem the obvious choice.

The UNFCCC’s secretariat is based in Bonn, which already hosts several smaller climate meetings each year. The last summit was in Copenhagen, which has one of Europe’s biggest convention centres.

However, developing countries will be bound to argue that Europe and the US already have more than their fair share of UN institutions.

The climate circus will set up its next camp in November in the Mexican resort of Cancún. Next year’s summit is due to be held in South Africa but, under the Government’s plan, from 2012 there would be a permanent home.

A Government official said: “We want to strength the UNFCCC by creating a permanent governing council and appointing a new head with additional authority.

“We also want to reduce the air miles of the meetings by having a permanent location.”

He said that the current system of holding the two-week summit in a different city each year distracted from the negotiations. The host country, which chaired the talks, spent much of the time organising facilities for the visitors.

Kat Watts, climate adviser for the environmental lobby group WWF and a veteran of several summits, welcomed the idea of a permanent home but said that there were some advantages to varying the location.

“The atmosphere of the location can make a difference to the mood of delegates. There is a difference between being able to go out to a café by the sea in Bali and have a discussion as opposed to winter in Poland.”

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