Copenhagen meet begins amid hopes

Negotiators from 193 countries meet amidst hopes that a climate deal to save Earth is within reach.

Copenhagen: Negotiators from 193 countries
today began nearly two-week long conference, the biggest on
climate, to try and reach an agreement on combating the issue
amidst hope that a deal was within reach with countries like
India announcing voluntary reduction in carbon intensity.
Leaders and scientists urged over 15,000 delegates
gathered at the Bella Centre here to agree to immediate action
to limit carbon emissions and raise billions of dollars in aid
and technology to help save the planet.

Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen told the
delegates that the world was looking to Copenhagen to
safeguard the generations of tomorrow.

"For the next two weeks, Copenhagen will be Hopenhagen.
By the end, we must be able to deliver back to the world what
was granted us here today: hope for a better future," he said.

The urgency to act was underscored Chairman of the UN
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Rajendra Pachauri
who said that global emissions would need to peak by 2015 for
the world to stay below two degrees Celsius temperature rise.
"The costs of responding to climate change will become
progressively higher as time goes on, therefore we must
take action now," he said.

Days ahead of the meeting, China and India announced
significant reduction in their carbon intensity by 2020.

US President Barack Obama, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao are among the 110 heads of
state and government attending the final leg of the summit
raising hopes for a stronger political resolve to tackle
global warming.

However, a treaty that can tackle the climate change that is already affecting the world seems far away.

Denmark`s Environment Minister Connie Hedegaard, the new president of the conference, acknowledged as much when she said there would be no legal treaty at the end of this summit, only a "political declaration" that would, she hoped, lead to a treaty.

But industrialised and developing countries remained as far apart as before on the crucial issue - who should reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG), by when and by how much.

The so-called BASIC grouping of countries - Brazil, India, South Africa and China - has proposed what essentially amounts to industrialised countries cutting their GHG emissions 40-45 percent by 2020. Hedegaard described this to IANS Monday "as a good starting point" for negotiations.

In turn, developed countries, want emerging economies to commit to a date by which their GHG emissions will peak.

The so-called "peaking year" approach is "completely unacceptable" to India, a member of the government delegation said immediately after the inauguration ceremony of the summit of 192 nations.

Making their position clear, the Group of 77 countries and China said rich countries must curb their pollution instead of asking poor countries to act.

While the bickering restarts, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) chief Rajendra Pachauri reminded delegates at the opening session that according to science, "global GHG emissions must peak by 2015 and then decline if temperature rise is to be kept within two degrees Celsius as endorsed by the G8 leaders" a few months back. That move was endorsed by the G20, including India.

The time for debate is over, Pachauri warned. "This conference must lead to action."

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, prime minister of Denmark, said at the inauguration: "We have to make difficult but necessary decisions" and called upon delegates to "translate political will into a strong common approach".

He accepted that "we have different perspectives on framing and precise content of such an agreement (to tackle climate change) and no one is underestimating the difficulties", but said the "political resolve to have a common agreement that is just and equitable, effective and operational, is manifest".

UNFCCC chief Yvo de Boer reminded his audience of exactly what was at stake by relating the story of a six-year-old boy who lost his parents and younger brother in a cyclone.

"The clock has ticked down to zero. After two years of negotiations, the time has come to deliver," he said.

Agencies inputs