Merkel decides to attend Copenhagen climate summit

Merkel decides to attend Copenhagen climate summit

Berlin: Chancellor Angela Merkel has decided to attend the Copenhagen crunch climate conference after leaders including US President Barack Obama buried hopes of a binding deal, her spokesman said Monday.

“I don’t have to beat around the bush, of course yesterday’s outcome did not exactly spark great euphoria," spokesman Christoph Steegmans told reporters in Berlin.

“This is partly why the chancellor decided to play an active role in ensuring that the bar is not set too low in Copenhagen, and that we try to make the most of it and not to let anyone off their responsibilities," he said.

Asia-Pacific leaders including Obama and China’s Hu Jintao on Sunday shot down in flames any remaining hopes that the December 7-18 Copenhagen meeting would result in a binding international pact to combat climate change.

Instead they backed a face-saving proposal from Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen, who jetted in for hastily arranged talks in Singapore, aimed at forging a political statement.

Complex negotiations towards a legally enforceable successor to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, which expires in 2012, would then continue to work out differences between rich nations and developing countries including China.

In a final declaration, the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) also dropped a proposal included in earlier drafts to slash their greenhouse gas emissions to half their 1990 levels by 2050.

Environmental group WWF said the leaders had “missed a great opportunity to move the world closer to a fair, ambitious and binding agreement" and that “this does not look like a smart strategy" to battle climate change.

“The bar must not be set too low at Copenhagen. Copenhagen has to be an important milestone, and also of course a first step towards a binding agreement next year," Merkel’s spokesman said.

“What the German government expects from the Copenhagen summit is an important step along the way to a binding agreement in the framework of the United Nations.

“The chancellor, together with her partners in the European Union, wants to make sure that the maximum possible is achieved there (in Copenhagen) towards this," Steegmans said.

Merkel would arrive on the evening of 17 December, Steegmans added.

Environment ministers from 44 key countries gathered Monday in Copenhagen for a two-day closed-door meeting to prepare for the conference.

The delegations taking part were from the United States, China, India and Brazil as well as several island nations and African states that are among the poorest in the world.