Thursday, December 17, 2009



Several hundred protesters march during a Climate No Borders demonstration in Copenhagen on Monday. Copenhagen is hosting the United Nations Climate Change Conference which ends on December 18. Photo/REUTERS

December 17 2009

Prospects for a strong U.N. climate change deal grew more remote at the climax of two years of talks, with developed and developing nations deadlocked on sharing cuts in greenhouse gases.

Dozens of heads of state were arriving in the Danish capital to address the December 7-18 conference, which is meant to sign a new pact to curb greenhouse gas emissions on Friday.

Ministers have struggled to craft a coherent text for the leaders to sign because they have so far failed to close a rift over how far developing world should join industrialized countries in cutting carbon emissions.

A Danish proposal to break the talks into smaller groups to speed up progress foundered on opposition from poor countries, backed by top greenhouse gas emitter China.

"There was no progress overnight in consultations on how to consult," said a source who declined to be identified.

"We are in serious trouble. There is hope that the arrival of Lula (Brazil) and the Chinese PM might unblock this."

China told participants it saw no possibility of achieving a detailed accord to tackle global warming, an official from another nation involved in the talks said early on Thursday.

The official, who asked not to be identified, told Reuters the Chinese had instead suggested issuing "a short political declaration of some sort," but it was not clear what that declaration would say.

China was still committed to the negotiations, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told reporters in Beijing on Thursday. Jiang told a regular news conference that "China hopes the Copenhagen meeting is successful, and has always taken a constructive attitude."

Talks on Wednesday had stalled after some developing nations rejected a proposal by the Danish hosts to try and simplify complex drafts by convening a small ministerial group to narrow long lists of negotiating options.

China also wanted all countries involved. Some developed nations ministers complained that the talks could be strangled on issues of procedure.

"People can kill this process, kill the agreement with process arguments. It is very dangerous at the moment," said Britain's energy and climate minister Ed Miliband late on Wednesday, declining to name any countries.


The Copenhagen summit is meant to agree a global climate deal, as a basis for agreement on a new treaty to succeed the existing Kyoto Protocol after 2012, to avoid dangerous climate change and drive a shift to a greener global economy less dependent on fossil fuels.

About 120 heads of state and government will join the talks on Thursday and Friday, with U.S. President Barack Obama planning to arrive on Friday morning.
Speakers are lined up to address the summit until the small hours of the morning, including political heavyweights such as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

While the overall picture appears bleak, there has been some progress in areas critical to reaching a deal.

Africa dramatically scaled back its expectations for climate aid from rich nations on Wednesday, and Japan pledged about $11 billion in public funds to 2012 to help poor countries adapt to a warmer world and cut their emissions.

Substantial progress is stalled on sharing the cost of emissions cuts, and a disagreement over whether to craft one new climate treaty or extend the present Kyoto Protocol and add an extra pact involving more nations.

Kyoto binds the emissions of nearly 40 industrialized countries, but not the United States which never ratified the pact, and does not require action of developing nations.

Under a new deal, the United States wants international scrutiny of performance by developing nations against targets to slow growth in their emissions, something they have rejected.

(With extra reporting by Anna Ringstrom, Alister Doyle, Krittivas Mukherjee, Karin Jensen; Writing by Gerard Wynn; Editing by Janet McBride)