Environment ministers from the industrialised G8 nations, along with those from the five rapidly emerging countries - Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa - are in Germany to discuss a united response to the problem of climate change during a two-day meeting in Potsdam.
They meeting will attempt to arrive at a consensus on how greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced and also to agree on a new framework for the Kyoto Protocol that comes to an end in 2012.
Setting the tone of the meeting, Sigmar Gabriel, Germany's environment minister said the meeting was about bridging the gap between industrialised and developing nations and cautioned, "We must guard against giving developing nations the impression that the developing world expects them to carry our share of the burden," he said.
He said that the meeting would not bring a new deal, but was more of a chance to discuss the issues. "We are going to speak about the barriers that have until now held back international climate change negotiations and how to break them," he said.
Achim Steiner, the head of the United Nations Environment Programme, said the Potsdam talks were "not about pre-negotiating an outcome", but about preparing for "a quantum leap forward" later in the year.
At a GD summit due in June this year, heads of state will focus on climate change in Germany. Global environment ministers are also due at a UN conference on the issue in Bali in December.
Last week, at a climate change summit in Brussels, European Union leaders agreed to slash carbon dioxide emissions by 20 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020. Tackling the issues also depends on the cooperation of heavy polluters outside the EU, primarily the US, and the two rapidly growing economies, China and India.