Copenhagen: Denmark, the host of the Copenhagen UN climate change talks, on Monday proposed the end of 2010 as a new deadline for the conclusion of a binding treaty on greenhouse emissions.
Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen on Sunday suggested that next month’s badly bogged down Copenhagen conference aim for political agreements on emission cuts and financing, but delay the drafting of a legally binding treaty.
US President Barack Obama, whose difficulty in passing a domestic climate change package has been one of the main obstacles to a global deal, quickly fell in behind the plan.
Some 40 environment ministers are meeting in Copenhagen to find ways to rescue at least a political deal to fight global warming at next month’s summit, despite splits on central issues such as who should cut greenhouse emissions by how much.
Danish climate and energy minister Connie Hedegaard said countries could still agree on key elements such as cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by developed nations and new funds to help developing nations.
She said the December summit should set a clear deadline for agreeing a full legal text. Talks are scheduled for Bonn in mid-2010 and Mexico in December 2010.
“Maybe a realistic deadline would be Mexico but it depends on how far parties go on crunch issues,” she told reporters.
She said the 16-17 November talks in Copenhagen would address these issues, including emissions cuts and finance.
Denmark wants world leaders to sign up for a 5-8 page “political agreement” next month.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a UN food summit in Rome that a climate deal was crucial to fighting global hunger as climate change hurts farm output in poor countries.
“There can be no food security without climate security,” he said. “Next month in Copenhagen, we need a comprehensive agreement that will provide a firm foundation for a legally binding treaty on climate change.”
China studying delay
China, which is under pressure to restrict its emissions growth even though its industrial expansion is very recent, said it was “studying” the Danish proposal for a delay.
But it made clear it is keen to tie down points that have been agreed in principle on technology transfer and funding from long-industrialised nations to the developing world.
“China believes that no matter what form of document is agreed in Copenhagen ... (it should) consolidate and expand the consensus and progress already made in negotiations concerning mitigation, adaptation, funding, technology transfers and other aspects,” its Foreign Ministry said on Monday.
Poor nations insisted that a binding treaty was still possible next month, even though Obama and most other leaders reckon it has slipped out of reach, not least because the US Senate is unlikely to pass carbon-capping laws by December.
“We believe that an internationally legally binding agreement is still possible,” Michael Church, the environment minister of Grenada who chairs the 42-nation Alliance of Small Island States, told Reuters.
India’s Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh said:
“It seems like the inability of the US to come forward with a meaningful emissions cut by the year 2020 has led to such a situation ... I am hoping that we can get a full agreement but it looks increasingly unlikely.”
Lumumba Stanislaus Di-Aping, Sudan’s UN ambassador, who represents developing nations in the Group of 77 and China at the UN climate talks, said they were “not moving away” from a belief that a full treaty was possible in Copenhagen.
Developing nations say they are most at risk from heatwaves, droughts, floods, disease and rising sea levels, and so are pressing for action most urgently.
A scenario by the UN Climate Panel said that developed nations should cut their emissions to 25 to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 to avoid the worst of global warming.
Offers so far total between 10 and 15%, India’s Ramesh said.