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Copenhagen climate treaty in danger

Climate talks will run into next year: top Japanese negotiator
London (AFP) Nov 9, 2009 - There is a "less than one percent" chance of securing a binding protocol at next month's UN climate change summit in Copenhagen, a leading Japanese diplomat said Monday. Kunihiko Shimada, principal international negotiator at Tokyo's environment ministry, said it would need a "miracle" to secure a binding protocol at the talks but held out hope that one could be secured by the end of next year. Outlining three possibilities for the talks which aim to curb greenhouse gas emissions, he said that in the first scenario, a "miracle will happen" between now and the arrival of heads of state at Copenhagen. "This is not probable though I still have a hope," he said, while putting this at a "less than one percent probability." Under the second scenario, which Shimado said was "most probable," politicians would agree key elements and take forward negotiations for a protocol into next year.

"We can still negotiate the nitty-gritty parts of the details next year based on what should be included in the outcomes," he said, addressing a conference in London. "But I would like to see the utmost outcome, the so-called treaty which includes all necessary outcomes, by the end of next year." He added an additional warning: "If we can't get all the elements by the end of this year, we can get this kind of elements never."

Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has said his country will implement a sharp cut its emissions by 25 percent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels. Also addressing the conference via a pre-recorded video was the UN's climate chief Yvo de Boer, who warned of the dangers of further delays at Copenhagen. "We can't wait another year to take action. Copenhagen is where the negotiations must stop and the implementation must begin," he said. "Very little time remains until the start of Copenhagen... nations must step back from self-interest and let common interest prevail."

Brazil urges world leaders to attend UN climate meet
Brasilia (AFP) Nov 9, 2009 - Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Monday called on his counterparts from the world's most polluting countries to attend a UN climate change summit next month. The results of the December 16-17 conference in Copenhagen "will depend a lot on the presence of all the presidents," he said in his weekly radio address. Lula said he had already put the call out to Britain, France and Germany, and this week "I am committed to calling presidents (Barack) Obama and Hu Jintao," referring to the leaders of the United States and China. The aim is to see "if we can manage to build a proposal... to sign a treaty that guarantees that the world will start to curb pollution." Brazil is insisting that wealthy industrialized countries that have been emitting greenhouse gases for generations pay billions to it and other developing nations to encourage them to cut carbon dioxide output. Lula reiterated that his country was intent on reducing the rate of Amazon deforestation 80 percent by 2020, and said the countries that shared the Amazon basin were trying to reach a common position for the Copenhagen talks. The UN conference's goal is to come up with a successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol. UN climate chief Yvo de Boer said Friday that 40 heads of state or government have signaled they would attend the talks, including Lula, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
by Staff Writers
Barcelona, Spain (UPI) Nov 9, 2009
Experts are increasingly doubtful that the Copenhagen climate-change conference can produce a binding climate treaty, less than a month before the U.N.-mandated meeting is due to start.

The latest round of negotiations in Barcelona last week revealed the growing frustration over the slow progress when it comes to stopping global warming.

Frustrated by developed countries' unwillingness to make firm commitments on emission cuts, delegates from the African nations decided to boycott the negotiations in Spain.

U.S. negotiators in Barcelona disappointed representatives from developing countries. Despite a strong campaign pledge from President Barack Obama to inject new life into climate-protection negotiations, the United States has not stepped up to the challenge, developing nations say. A U.S. climate bill is delayed in the Senate, and Washington's negotiators in Barcelona were not ready to back concrete emissions-reductions targets that would be ensured by U.N. oversight.

On the sidelines of the Barcelona summit, some delegates were thus "contemplating the increasingly clear high-level messages that a legally binding agreement at COP 15 will not be possible," the Earth Negotiations Bulletin reports. "Some observers were visibly disappointed, while others tried to stay positive as they speculated about prospects for a legally binding instrument sometime in 2010."

The accord to be born at Copenhagen -- to feature binding emissions-reductions targets, adaptation measures and their funding -- is due to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which runs out in 2012. Key to the new accord are ambitious commitments from the United States and leading developing economies such as India and China.

But some experts now say the Kyoto Protocol may be extended beyond 2012 in case the world fails to agree on an ambitious new treaty at Copenhagen or in the months after that.

Connie Hedegaard, the Danish climate and energy minister who will chair the Copenhagen summit, said that the Dec. 8-17 event will be "a moment of truth." The Barcelona conference showed that "countries are very worried about the consequences of global warming and expect the developed countries to perform in Copenhagen," she said in a statement. "Although the blockade slowed down negotiations, it is encouraging that Africa speaks with one voice. It sends a clear signal to the countries that there should be numbers on the table in Copenhagen -- regarding reduction targets as well as financing."

Yvo de Boer, the United Nations' top climate-change official, said the Barcelona talks did produce some progress on technology cooperation, stopping deforestation in developing countries and adaptation.

earlier related report
Maldives leader warns of Copenhagen 'suicide pact'
Male (AFP) Nov 9, 2009 - The president of the Maldives warned Monday that the world was set to sign a "global suicide pact" unless it agreed a deal in Copenhagen next month to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

"At the moment every country arrives at climate negotiations seeking to keep their own emissions as high as possible," President Mohamed Nasheed said here. "This is the logic of the madhouse, a recipe for collective suicide.

"We don't want a global suicide pact. We want a global survival pact."

More than 190 nations are to meet for UN talks in Copenhagen from December 7-18, aiming for a post-2012 accord to slash emissions from fossil fuels that trap solar heat and drive global warming.

But after nearly two years of haggling, deep rifts remain over apportioning emissions curbs between rich economies and fast-growing developing nations and on the accord's architecture and legal status.

Nasheed opened a two-day forum for 11 countries considered the most vulnerable to climate change, urging them to go carbon neutral to show the rich world the way forward.

"A group of vulnerable, developing countries committed to carbon neutral development would send a loud message to the outside world," Nasheed said, adding that they needed to make a commitment to carbon neutrality.

Nasheed, 52, called the meeting of the world's least polluting smaller states, including Kiribati and Barbados, in a bid to hammer out a common stance ahead of the Copenhagen summit.

"If those with the least (pollution) start doing the most, what excuse can the rich have for continuing inaction?" he asked. "We know this is not an easy step to take, and that there might be dangers along the way.

"We want to shine a light, not loudly demand that others go first into the dark."

Being carbon neutral normally means reducing emissions of greenhouse gases where possible and offsetting or compensating for any others that cannot be eliminated.

Some 85 delegates were taking part in the conference at the Bandos island resort, a short boat ride from Male, the capital of the archipelago which is best known for its upmarket tourism.

Last week, the Maldives flagged off construction of a 200-million-dollar wind farm as part of efforts to make the low-lying archipelago carbon neutral by 2020.

The facility on a small islet just north of the capital Male is expected to be completed within 20 months, an official said, adding that it would supply more than half the nation's electricity needs.

Nasheed, whose cabinet met underwater last month in a stunt aimed at highlighting the Maldives' vulnerability to rising sea levels, said he wanted the country to be a showcase for renewable and clean energy.

In 2007, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that an increase in sea levels of just 18 to 59 centimetres (seven to 24 inches) would make the Maldives virtually uninhabitable by 2100.

More than 80 percent of the tiny nation, famed as a tourist paradise because of its secluded beaches, coral reefs and white-sand beaches, is less than a metre (about three feet) above sea level.

China, Britain, Denmark, France, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia and the United States sent observers for the conference, called the Climate Vulnerable Forum, officials said.

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US to seek climate framework, not legal pact: experts
Washington (AFP) Nov 8, 2009
Lack of action on the climate change bill bogged down in the US Senate will not stop Washington from seeking a framework to curb carbon emissions at next month's summit in Copenhagen, experts say. "I don't think that anyone is expecting a legal pact at this point," Michael Levi, an expert on climate issues at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations, told AFP. But US President ... read more

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