Leaders try to save climate meet

December 15, 2009 12:00 am

, COPENHAGEN, Dec 15 – World leaders raised the pressure for results at the UN climate summit on Tuesday, amid procedural wrangles, finger-pointing and defence of national interests.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, his Australian counterpart Kevin Rudd and Brazil\\\’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva were among the heavyweights expected in the Danish capital where climate ministers have struggled to make progress.

"Time is running out… There is no time for posturing or blaming," Ban told reporters in New York before flying to the Danish capital.

"If everything is left to leaders to resolve at the last minute, we risk having a weak deal or no deal at all.  And this would be a failure of potentially catastrophic consequence."

The summit, which reaches its climax on Friday when 120 heads of state huddle in the Danish capital, is billed as one of the most important gatherings of the post-World War II era.

Its goal is to agree an outline deal of national pledges to curb carbon emissions and set up a mechanism to provide billions of dollars in help for poor countries in the firing line of climate change.

If the surge in greenhouse gas emissions is untamed, Earth will be on course within the next decade for warming that will inflict drought, flood, storms and rising sea levels on tens of millions of people, say scientists.

But deep divisions remain over how to split the tab.

Developing countries are demanding their rich counterparts slash their carbon emissions by at least 40 percent 2020 compared with 1990 levels.

Emerging economic giants such as China and India say they are willing to promise voluntary measures to slow their forecast surges in emissions but are under pressure to be more ambitious and be subject to international scrutiny.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledged the West was expected to take the lead, but said all countries had to play their part.

"This needs to be a common effort. All major economies, developed and developing, need to take robust and transparent action to reduce their carbon emissions," she wrote in the International Herald Tribune newspaper.

"The simple fact is that nearly all of the growth in emissions in the next 20 years will come from the developing world. Without their participation and commitment, a solution is impossible."

Delegates say behind-closed-doors negotiations have been marred by bitter exchanges between the Americans and Chinese, with Beijing accusing Washington of "playing tricks".

Developing nations have complained of being excluded from key negotiations.
A Western diplomat said that the conference chair, Denmark\\\’s former climate minister Connie edegaard, was moving too fast for a painstaking, consensus-forging process.

"If Connie tries to put a text on the table today, then the whole conference will fail," he told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"We shouldn\\\’t try and dance ahead of the music. We\\\’ve got to go a bit more slowly so that the negotiations can move on from the ministers to the heads of state, otherwise we\\\’ll get a repeat of yesterday," he added, referring to a five-hour walkout by African nations from working groups on Monday.

Jonathan Pershing, deputy US chief negotiator, said it was to be expected that such a meeting would not be plain sailing all the way.

"Things are looking like they always do in the middle of the week, a little slow, lots of consultations," he told reporters.

A European negotiator added: "We lost quite a lot of time yesterday… (but) people will hold their cards close to their chest to the end."

Aware the clock was ticking, environment ministers carried on with closed doors meetings until the early hours.

Thousands of environmental activists have descended on Copenhagen during the course of the 12-day summit, staging several large-scale demonstrations.
Danish police stormed a Copenhagen squat late Monday, firing tear gas and arresting 210 demonstrators who had set alight barricades.


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