Climate Talks Down to the Wire: Copenhagen Day 12 Roundup

by | Dec 18, 2009

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UNclimateFailure to reach agreements on carbon emission cuts, financial aid to developing nations and verification of emissions curbs on the last day of the 15th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15) likely means there will be no climate agreement reached on Dec.18. A leaked scientific paper also indicates that the current emissions cuts promised by world leaders are likely to result in a 3 degree C rise in temperature, which will be catastrophic to developing nations.

According to the BBC, the UN has asked world leaders to stay overnight in Copenhagen because of the deadlock.

Expressing what many delegates and world leaders are thinking, the Swedish Environment Minister, Andreas Carlgren, bluntly said that the U.S. and China will “make or break the world’s attempt to halt dangerous climate change,” reports The Sydney Morning Herald.

Reuters is also reporting that failure by the U.S. and China to come up with new proposals has stalled any chances of an ambitious global climate agreement, though some progress has been made in some areas. Delegates say gaps still remain over emissions targets and monitoring, according to the article.

President Barack Obama and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao are sticking with their previously announced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction targets — the U.S. target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels, reports Reuters.

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao says China will commit and even exceed its targets, though it is not obligated to meet international binding targets or allow international emissions monitoring, a key sticking point for the U.S., reports the Guardian. However, Wen says China would improve transparency, according to the article.

During a speech on Dec. 18, President Obama has warned world leaders that time is running out to strike a deal and that the international community’s ability to take collective action was in doubt, reports the BBC.

Obama said climate change poses unacceptable risks to international security, the world economy and the planet, reports the BBC.

Obama also said world leaders must accept an accord, even if it is not perfect, and that there would be no international agreement without sharing information, reports the Voice of America.

After President Obama and the Chinese Premier gave their speeches on Dec. 18, they met for nearly an hour, according to the BBC.

A leaked UN reports shows that emissions cuts promised by world leaders at Copenhagen will still lead to a global temperature rise of 3 degree C, reports the Guardian.

The document, dated 11 p.m. on Tuesday night, shows a gap of up to 4.2 gigatons of carbon emissions between the present pledges and the required 2020 level of 44Gt to stay below a 2 degree C rise, reports the Guardian. The result could mean destruction of the Amazon rainforest, water shortages across South America and Australia and near-extinction of tropical reefs, according to the UN, reports the Guardian.

Several developing countries are already experiencing the results of climate change. The Bangladeshi Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, said sea level rise and rising sea temperatures were destroying fish sanctuaries in low-lying deltas, and without ambitious reductions in global greenhouse gases, a sea-level rise of one meter will force 20 million Bangladeshis to seek refuge on higher ground, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, also said drought is causing death across Africa, and Vietnam’s Nguyen Tan Dzung said seas a meter higher would submerge 38 percent of his country’s deltas and coastal areas, including the big rice-growing areas, reports the Sydney newspaper.

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