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UN Climate Change Conference

Ministers fail to set figures on emissions cuts

Article published on the 2009-12-15 Latest update 2009-12-15 14:53 TU

A poster in a Copenhagen metro station in honour of the UN Climate Change Conference.Photo: Reuters/Christian Charisius

A poster in a Copenhagen metro station in honour of the UN Climate Change Conference.
Photo: Reuters/Christian Charisius

The United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen was left deadlocked on Tuesday as a new draft text failed to set any specific targets for limiting global warming. UN chief Ban Ki-moon has warned that "time is running out" for world leaders to reach an agreement.

The latest proposal gave no figures for a reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions, a peak for these emissions, nor on financing for poor countries exposed to climate change.

Ministers are currently debating these core questions in the hope of reaching a consensus by Friday, when 120 heads of state will fly in to the Danish capital to join the discussions.

"If everything is left to leaders to resolve at the last minute, we risk having a weak deal or no deal at all," warned UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who arrived in Copenhagen Tuesday morning.

"And this would be a failure of potentially catastrophic consequence."

The draft proposal submitted on Tuesday said that "developed country parties must take the lead" in combating climate change as they were responsible for the "largest share of historical and current global emissions of greenhouse gases."

However, the "sources and scale of financial contributions" to fund action against global warming are "to be elaborated." 

Yvo de Boer, UN Executive Secretary for Climate Change


Any agreement needs to address two main requirements, said the UN climate official leading the conference, Yvo de Boer: "Ambitious emission-reduction targets that make sure we do what science tells us needs to be done; and secondly - because even that will not be enough - significant finance on the table that will help developing countries adapt to the inevitable impact of climate change."

Scientists estimate that industrialised countries would need to reduce their carbon emissions by 25 to 40 per cent by 2020 in order to prevent the earth's temperature rising a further 2° Celsius, de Boer said.

He was speaking at a 'climate hearing' organised by Oxfam International and led by Mary Robinson, Chair of the International Institute for Envrionment and Development.

"We're actually in the situation now where developing countries are doing a lot better than industrialised nations," de Boer told Robinson.

"Over the coming days we need to see rich nation leaders do better on that point."