Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Efforts Abound to Salvage Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen

Ministers take over climate talks

Environment ministers are holding talks at the UN climate conference in Copenhagen amid threats of large-scale protests by environmental groups.

Activists, angered by logistical issues and a lack of progress on a deal, have vowed to disrupt proceedings.

The White House said President Barack Obama, who will join world leaders in Copenhagen later in the week, is confident of reaching a deal.

Talks are deadlocked over emission cuts and financial aid for poorer countries.

For the last two mornings, thousands of campaigners have queued for hours to gain access to the conference venue - many unsuccessfully.

Now, with ministers and their aides joining the conference, the organisers have slashed the number of other delegates allowed in.

A spokeswoman from the Climate Justice Action group says demonstrations amounting to "mass civil disobedience" are planned for Wednesday.

The groups says some 15,000 delegates have been effectively "locked out" of the summit by being refused accreditation or experiencing long delays in their applications.

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who is already in Copenhagen, told reporters on Tuesday that it was a critical moment.

"This is a very important moment for the world," Mr Brown said.

"It is possible that we will not get an agreement and it is also true that there are many issues to be sorted out. But I am determined... to do everything I can to bring the world together."

Stumbling blocks

The high-level phase of the talks began on Tuesday, with environment ministers and negotiators from 193 countries struggling to make progress on core issues.

"There is no understatement that with your signatures you will write our future," Britain's Prince Charles told the gathering.

More than 120 leaders will formally join the talks on Thursday, aiming to seal an accord by Friday.

Just days before a climate deal is due to be completed, there is clearly still an immense amount of negotiating left to do, says the BBC's environment correspondent Richard Black from Copenhagen.

Unresolved issues include:
--the size of emissions cuts by developed nations
--how finance should be raised and disbursed, and
--most fundamentally, whether a deal here should aim to keep the global temperature rise to 2C or just 1.5C

However, the White House said President Obama, who is due to join the summit on Friday, is confident of securing a deal.

"The president believes that we can get... an operational agreement that makes sense in Copenhagen, over the next few days," spokesman Robert Gibbs told a briefing.

However the American negotiator at the conference said he did not expect to offer any further cuts in US carbon emissions.

Developing countries have accused industrialised nations of going back on their commitment to fight climate change.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2009/12/16 01:17:44 GMT

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