12/09/2009, 00.00
ASIA – UNITED NATIONS
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Copenhagen climate conference risks failure

Divisions between developed and developing countries emerge over carbon emission cuts and financial aid. This is the warmest decade on record since 1850 according to some scientists, whilst others say data backing global warming argument were manipulated.
Copenhagen (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Tensions and divisions could scuttle the UN conference on climate. The latest obstacle is a leaked Danish draft, which calls for developed countries to have per capita emissions twice as high as those of developing countries, thus violating the spirit of the Kyoto consensus.

UN climate chief Yvo de Boer said the draft paper was “an informal paper ahead of the conference given to a number of people for the purposes of consultations,” but the Group of 77 countries (a coalition that now represents 130 developing countries) slammed the proposal. The text is a "serious violation that threatens the success of the Copenhagen negotiating process," Sudan's Lumumba Stanislas Dia Ping stated.

Still UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was “optimistic" that a solid “climate-change agreement can be reached”.

Climate scientists were proposing a 25-40 percent cut in carbon emissions in order to keep global warming under control. But the battle lines are also drawn on this issue.

Before the conference, the United States set for itself a target to reduce emissions by 17 per cent by 2020 from the 2005 level. The European Union announced it would cut emissions by 20 per cent over 1990 levels. Japan would cut 25 per cent by 2020.

China said it would cut its carbon intensity—the amount of carbon dioxide emitted for each unit of gross domestic product—by 40-45 per cent by 2020. For Su Wei, the deputy head of the Chinese delegation, the US goal could not be considered “notable.”  Similarly, China’s chief negotiator criticised the EU for proposing a goal that is "far from being enough" and Japan for setting impossible conditions on its reduction target.

China is the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases from human activity. Last year, its output of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas from burning fossil fuels, reached 6.8 billion tonnes, a rise of 178 per cent over levels in 1990. US emissions rose 17 per cent over that time.  However, the average American is responsible for greenhouse gas emissions equal to 25 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, compared to 5.8 tonnes for the average Chinese citizen.

Bruno Sekoli, chief Lesotho delegate and president of the Least Developed Countries (LDC) group, called for a firm commitment to funds to cut emissions and investments in green technologies.

A US proposal to allocate US$ 10 billion in yearly financial help from rich to developing nations was ridiculed by China as a drop in the ocean.

For their part, NGOs said that the priority for developing countries is to improve air and water quality rather than global warming.

Nevertheless, World Meteorological Organisation Secretary-General Michael Jarraud said that this decade would be the warmest since the beginning of instrumental climate records in 1850, and this despite claims from a number of scientists that UN data on climate change are the result of tweaked research (see “Copenhagen climate conference opens, along with business deals and data manipulation,” in AsiaNews, 07 December 2009).

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