December 15, 2009 / 1:46 PM / 10 years ago

U.N. chief calls for compromise at climate talks

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Danish conference hosts warned ministers Tuesday to compromise at deadlocked global talks to salvage agreement on a new U.N. climate pact.

People walk past a globe with an interactive display at the townhall square in central Copenhagen December 15, 2009. REUTERS/Cristian Charisius

Ministers and negotiators from 193 countries struggled to make progress on core issues including emissions cuts and climate finance in the Copenhagen talks, three days before world leaders are meant to seal an accord.

“Three years of effort have come down to three days of action,” Ban said. “Let us not falter in the home stretch.”

The U.N. process is meant to lead to a legally binding treaty next year.

“In these very hours we are balancing between success and failure,” said Danish President of the two-week meeting, Connie Hedegaard, at the opening of the high-level phase of the talks. Organisers of the talks said environment ministers would work deep into night Tuesday to narrow wide differences, saying the bulk of the work must be complete before more than 120 leaders formally joined the meeting Thursday.

After a suspension of several hours the previous day, talks were stalled Tuesday over disputes about the level of emissions cuts by rich countries and a long-term global target to curb a rise in global temperatures which could trigger rising sea levels, floods and drought.

“The time for delay and blame is over,” said Ban, who added he was “reasonably optimistic” of a deal. Denmark’s Hedegaard told ministers — “You must compromise, commit.”

Todd Stern, U.S. special envoy for climate change, told reporters he did not expect any change in U.S. carbon cutting targets during the talks. The European Union has said it will only sharpen its goals if the United States moves first.

Major U.S. businesses including Duke Energy, Microsoft and Dow Chemical called for tough U.S. emissions cuts which would mobilise a shift to a greener economy.

“We need long and short-term targets,” said Wulf Bernotat, chief executive of German utility E.ON.


Ban described the negotiations as “among the most complex and ambitious ever to be undertaken by the world community.” The talks have stumbled over a long-running rich-poor rift on sharing the burden of fighting climate change.

South African Environment Minister Buyelwa Sonjica, speaking for the “BASIC” group of China, India, Brazil and South Africa, said rich nation pledges for emissions cuts were “less than ambitious and ... inconsistent with the science.”

The talks have not yet decided whether to extend the present Kyoto Protocol or replace it. Kyoto only binds the emissions of rich countries. A senior U.S. official told reporters the talks were “in a state of high anxiety right now” on the issue.

And developing nations want the industrialised world to pay poorer countries to prepare for and slow climate change.

Japan would offer $10 billion (6.1 billion pounds) in aid over three years to 2012 to help developing countries fight global warming, including steps to protect biodiversity, a Japanese newspaper said Tuesday. The European Union has offered a similar sum.

An environmental source close to the U.S. delegation said that the United States planned to ramp up its contribution from about $1 billion in 2010 to $2 billion in 2011 and 2012.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said in Paris that he hoped U.S. President Barack Obama supported aid for developing countries. “President Obama often speaks about his links with Africa, it is time to show it,” he said.

Former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore urged countries to wrap up a full legal climate treaty by July 2010.

Describing “runaway melt” of the Earth’s ice, rising tree mortality and prospects of severe water scarcities, Gore told a UN audience: “In the face of effects like these, clear evidence that only reckless fools would ignore, I feel a sense of frustration” at the lack of agreement so far.

Slideshow (13 Images)

Nato Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen warned on the sidelines of the climate conference: “Crop failure may lead to rebellions which eventually could fuel radical movements, extremism and terrorism.”

(Writing by Gerard Wynn; Additional reporting by Michael Szabo, Pete Harrison and David Fogarty; Editing by Dominic Evans)

For Reuters latest environment blogs, click on:

0 : 0
  • narrow-browser-and-phone
  • medium-browser-and-portrait-tablet
  • landscape-tablet
  • medium-wide-browser
  • wide-browser-and-larger
  • medium-browser-and-landscape-tablet
  • medium-wide-browser-and-larger
  • above-phone
  • portrait-tablet-and-above
  • above-portrait-tablet
  • landscape-tablet-and-above
  • landscape-tablet-and-medium-wide-browser
  • portrait-tablet-and-below
  • landscape-tablet-and-below