Make or break for a Copenhagen deal, say campaigners

By staff writers
December 18, 2009

Representatives have gathered for the final scheduled day of the UN climate summit in Copenhagen amid uncertainty over the shape of any eventual deal - and with appeals for action reiterated by faith bodies and NGOs.

Ministers cancelled morning press engagements, apparently to engage in further last-minute diplomacy, as a document leaked from the UN secretariat said the world would warm by about three degrees this century if the greenhouse gas cuts being proposed at Copenhagen are followed through.

A draft political agreement drawn up by a small group of countries, including the UK, US and Australia, was rejected during overnight discussions. Delegates described the situation as "confusing" and "desperate", says the BBC.

One developing country negotiator is reported to have said that the draft political accord had arrived "as if from God" - meaning imperiously from on high, rather than in grace and hope.

As well as the leaders' session, talks are scheduled today on texts which analysts say contain fundamental divisions.

"The proposals on the table - especially from industrialised countries - fall far short of what the world needs," says Keith Allott from WWF (World Wildlife Fund).

Comment on leaked UN documents also suggested the world is heading for a 'three degree deal'. Christian aid agency Tearfund's director of advocacy, Paul Cook, said: "We are disturbed to see secret evidence showing that current emissions pledges from developed and major developing countries leave a massive gap in what is needed to prevent a disaster for the world’s poorest countries. Three degree temperature rises will devastate vast tracts of the world and destroy the lives and livelihoods of poor communities."

He continued: "We are in the final count-down and this is a key opportunity for the EU to lead.

"Tearfund believes that the EU should take a target of at least 40 per cent reductions on 1990 levels by 2020, but a move to 30 per cent now could be a vital move in pushing up ambition among other developed countries.

"Here in Copenhagen, the US has finally upped its game by supporting $100 billion a year by 2020 to tackle the climate crisis in developing countries. The EU can regain its leadership by being clear on their fair share of new public climate finance for poor countries. Millions of lives are stake, which means history-making political will is required," said Cook.

Leaders of churches and international church organisations sent a message to negotiators Tuesday evening imploring them to "not be afraid."

The letter, which was signed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the incoming and outgoing General Secretaries of the World Council of Churches as well as church leaders from Europe, North America and the Pacific, says the negotiations are at a crucial stage and negotiators need to be steadfast to "act now."

The faith leaders' message also called on the negotiators to keep in mind the historical responsibility of the industrialised countries in climate justice. "At this crucial stage in the negotiations, we would like to reiterate our firm conviction that there is an undeniable historical responsibility on the part of the industrialised countries for the climate change crisis that we currently face."

The full text of the message is here:

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