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Copenhagen Conference begins

Climate Change News

Copenhagen summit begins climate change action urged
7 Dec 2009

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192 countries attending talks, including about 100 heads of state
To discuss emissions cuts and financial measures to combat climate change
Danish PM urges delegates to deliver "hope for the future"

South Africa is the latest country to make emissions offer

Due to end 18 December


Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen has described the UN climate summit in Copenhagen as an "opportunity the world cannot afford to miss".

Opening the two-week conference in the Danish capital, he told delegates from 192 countries a "strong and ambitious climate change agreement" was needed.

About 100 leaders are to attend the meeting, which is intended to supplant the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

The UN says an unprecedented number of countries have promised emissions cuts.

Mr Rasmussen told delegates that the world was looking to the conference to safeguard humanity.

"For the next two weeks," he said, "Copenhagen will be Hopenhagen. By the end, we must be able to deliver back to the world what was granted us here today: hope for a better future."

Later, Rajendra Pachauri, who heads the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), criticised the "climategate" affair - the recent publication of e-mails among scientists assessing global warming at Britain's University of East Anglia.

He said the breaches showed "that some would go to the extent of carrying out illegal acts, perhaps in an attempt to discredit the IPCC".

Saudi climate negotiator Mohammad Al-Sabban, who has been resisting emissions curbs, told the conference that trust in climate science had been "shaken" by the leaked e-mails.

On Sunday, UN climate convention head Yvo de Boer expressed optimism about cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

"Never in 17 years of climate negotiations have so many different countries made so many pledges," he told the BBC.

Tougher targets?

Mr de Boer said offers of finance for clean technology for poor countries were also coming through and that talks were progressing on a long-term vision of massive cuts by 2050.

On Monday, South Africa became the latest country to make an offer - saying it would cut by one-third the growth of its carbon emissions over the next decade, subject to getting more funding and help from wealthier countries.

In July, the G8 bloc of industrialised countries and some major developing countries adopted a target of keeping the global average temperature rise since pre-industrial times to 2C.

However now the G77/China bloc - which speaks on behalf of developing countries - is discussing whether to demand a much tougher target of 1.5C

A number of African delegations are backing the argument made by small island states that 2C will bring major impacts to their countries.

BBC environment correspondent Richard Black says this would raise a huge obstacle, because none of the industrialised countries have put forward emission cuts in the range that would be required to meet a 1.5C target.

The African Union has threatened to walk out of the talks if industrialised countries do not agree to help poor ones pay for the transition to cleaner economies.

Tougher targets?

Meanwhile, a new poll commissioned by the BBC suggests that public concern over climate change is growing across the world.

In the survey, by Globescan, 64% of people questioned said that they considered global warming a very serious problem - up 20% from a 1998 poll.

To stress the importance of the summit, 56 newspapers in 45 countries are publishing the same editorial on Monday, warning that climate change will "ravage our planet" unless action is agreed, the London-based Guardian reported.

The editorial - to be published in 20 languages - has been thrashed out by editors ahead of the Copenhagen talks, the newspaper said.

"At the deal's heart must be a settlement between the rich world and the developing world," the editorial says.

Environmental activists are planning to hold protests in Copenhagen and around the world on 12 December to encourage delegates to reach the strongest possible deal.

Any agreement made at Copenhagen is intended to supplant the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on climate change, which expires in 2012.

World leaders who have pledged to attend include US President Barack Obama, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The main areas for discussion include:

* Targets to curb greenhouse gas emissions, in particular by developed countries

* Financial support for mitigation of and adaptation to climate change by developing countries

* A carbon trading scheme aimed at ending the destruction of the world's forests by 2030

Outlining his ambitions for the summit, Mr de Boer said: "I think what we will see coming out of Copenhagen is a package of decisions that define a long-term goal.

"Then, first of all, what will rich countries do to reduce their emissions. Secondly, what will major developing countries do to limit the growth of their emissions and thirdly prompt finance that will allow developing countries to adapt to the impacts of climate change."



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Source: BBC News