COPENHAGEN | EU leaders have renewed calls on China and the US to do more to make a global deal on climate change happen, as talks in Copenhagen enter their final stages.
The EU said the world’s two biggest polluters needed to put more ambitious offers on the negotiating table to convince the 119 world leaders arriving in Copenhagen today and tomorrow to sign up to a deal.
Andreas Carlgren, Sweden’s environment minister, said China’s and the US’s ambitions to limit emissions would “make or break the world’s efforts to keep global warming below 2ºC” in a statement to the conference yesterday. He appealed to both countries to “unleash your full potential” and make it possible for the world to stay below 2ºC. Together China and the US account for around half of global emissions.
The European Commission’s president, José Manuel Barroso, also called on China and the US to do more, saying “we need our American partners and our Chinese partners to make a further contribution to have a success”.
But those hopes were diminished this morning after the Chinese delegation told negotiators that Beijing saw no possibility of a detailed accord. An unnamed Chinese official told Reuters said that China had suggested “a short political declaration of some sort” but details were not specified.
The US is currently giving no ground on emissions-reduction targets. On Tuesday, Todd Stern, the US’s chief negotiator, said that the EU and US emission-reduction positions were comparable, as the US targets would mean an 83% reduction in emissions by 2050. But the EU wants to see the US take on more ambitious targets for 2020.
Nerves are fraying as the talks remain stuck on key issues of targets and funding support for developing countries.
But last night the executive secretary of the UN’s climate secretariat, Yvo de Boer, said it was “possible to get a real success here”, adding “in that context the next 24 hours are absolutely crucial”.
Yesterday did produce a breakthrough for EU negotiators, when African leaders reduced their expectations for climate finance, agreeing to accept sums in line with the EU position.
Meles Zenawi, the prime minister of Ethiopia and spokesman for the African Union, said the African Union would be willing to accept $100 billion (€70bn) each year by 2020. The African Union had previously been looking for $400bn annually, equivalent to 1% of the gross domestic product of rich countries.
Zenawi said it was his hope and expectation that his proposal would break the deadlock in negotiations and that the summit was “not that far away” from striking an agreement on finance.
Other African leaders have criticised Zenawi for dropping higher demands.
Greenpeace welcomed the proposal as a way to move negotiations forward. “Support from the EU for this African proposal clearly increases pressure on US President [Barack] Obama to recognise the need for long-term funding in Copenhagen,” Greenpeace’s EU policy director Joris den Blanken said.
Most EU leaders are in Copenhagen, with only Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi, currently in hospital, and Luxembourg’s Jean-Claude Juncker not joining the club in the Danish capital.
Rumours of a special EU leaders’ summit in Copenhagen were quashed yesterday by Barroso, who said that the leaders had agreed a mandate to negotiate in Copenhagen at their last Brussels summit.
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