Friday

20th Sep 2019

Sarkozy proposes extra climate summit ahead of Copenhagen

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has proposed that the leaaders of the major industrialised nations hold an extraordinary summit to discuss climate change ahead of the UN climate conference in Copenhagen in December.

Concerns that negotiations on a global climate deal are close to stalemated, despite fresh proposals for domestic measures aiming to counter global warming from China, prompted the suggestion from the French leader, in New York for a day of climate discussions during a meeting of the UN General Assembly.

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"Considering how complex this negotiation is, a new summit before Copenhagen is needed," he told attendees.

"We are on the path to failure if we continue to act as we have," he said.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon warned ahead of the meeting: "The climate negotiations are proceeding at glacial speed. The world's glaciers are now melting faster than human progress to protect them - and us."

However, both China and Japan impressed with offers made over the course of the day.

Chinese President Hu Jintao committed his country to a plan that would see an expansion of forest coverage by planting trees of some 240,000 kilometres and produce 15 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.

The Chinese leader also said that his country would reduce "by a notable margin" its carbon emissions growth.

However, he did not attach a specific reduction figure to the pledge.

"At stake in the fight against climate change are the common interests of the entire world," he said. "Out of a sense of responsibility to its own people and people across the world, China fully appreciates the importance and urgency of addressing climate change."

Developing countries "should not ... be asked to take on obligations that go beyond their development stage," he added.

Incoming Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama also re-iterated a commitment made shortly after his election that the country will cut emissions by 25 percent by 2020, beating the EU's binding target of 20 percent by the same date.

The EU has however committed to a cut of 30 percent if an ambitious global deal is reached in Copenhagen.

US President Barack Obama's presentation to delegates was much anticipated but in the end underwhelmed.

"The threat from climate change is serious, it is urgent, and it is growing," Mr Obama said. "And the time we have to reverse this tide is running out."

He outlined steps the US is already taking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions such as doubling the generating capacity from renewable energy sources over three years, constructing offshore wind plants and looking to carbon capture and storage to bury the carbon that is produced by industry and the power sector.

But the American plan to cut emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 already announced and derided as strongly inadequate in many quarters is still tied up in the US Congress and may not be passed in advance of the Copenhagen meeting.

Nevertheless, by the end of the UN conference on Tuesday, Mr Ban and Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen, host of the Copenhagen summit, impressed by the Chinese offer, had become somewhat more optimistic.

"This feeling of political momentum - that was very strong," said Mr Rasmussen.

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