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Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary-general on Tuesday appeared to be at odds with his own climate change envoy over the role the UN should play in securing international agreement on tackling global warming.

Gro Harlem Bruntland, UN climate change envoy, was quoted as telling a conference in Amsterdam that there was likely to be a shift towards more contacts among key players in the climate change debate in view of the UN’s Copenhangen summit in December failing to produce the desired binding agreement.

“You will have more of a double track system” in addition to the UN framework, Associated Press quoted her as saying.

Asked about Ms Brundtland’s comments a few hours later, Mr Ban told a press conference in New York: “Double track is not desirable at this time.” He said he had not read the reports of the former Norwegian prime minister’s remarks but added: “That I regard as her personal views.”

The centrality of the UN to the climate change process has been challenged by some member states who believe a forum of 192 members is too unwieldy to deal with such complex negotiations.

Mr Ban acknowledged that it was sometimes necessary and desirable that, with so many states involved, they might meet in smaller groups to address different agendas “to facilitate the consensus-building process”.

However, he insisted UN members were firmly committed to a process led by the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change that staged the Copenhagen summit.

Ms Brundtland said in Amsterdam that Copenhagen “will serve as a base for discussions going on this year”. However, she added: “It’s not only going to be focused on the United Nations framework, but more on what these emerging economies and big economies are committing to.”

Among the forums that have been discussing climate change outside the UN framework are the Group of Eight, Group of 20 and the 17-state major economies forum set up by Barack Obama, the US president, last year

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