Tuesday, December 8, 2009
United Nations opens climate talks in Copenhagen
by Carmelo Amalfi
GLOBAL warming recognises no borders. It does not discriminate. And, according to the Danish Prime Minister Lars Rasmussen, it already affects us all.
“The grim projections from science grow more alarming each day and already many face the dire consequences of global warming,” he said in his opening speech at the 15th United Nations conference of …
Mr Rasmussen called on rich and poor nations to share the burden of curbing greenhouse gas emissions by agreeing to a climate deal that is constructive, flexible and reasonable.
“I’m painfully aware we have different perspectives on the framing and precise content of such an agreement,” he said.
“And I’m sure no-one in this hall underestimates the difficulty we are facing in finding a common approach in coming weeks.
“But differences can be overcome if the political will is present.”
Mr Rasmussen said 110 heads of State and governments were due to arrive in the Danish capital next week at the conclusion of the conference.
“It represents a huge opportunity the world cannot afford to miss, they’re not just coming to talk, but to act,” he said. “The deal we invite leaders to sign off on is one that affects all aspects of society.”
Denmark Climate and Energy Minister and COP15 president Connie Hedegaard said that the science had never been clearer and the solutions never more abundant.
“This is the place to commit,” she said.
“This is our chance, if we miss this one it could take years before we get a better one. The time has come to set the right course for our world, while we still can.”
UN chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Rajendra Pachauri said nations such as Bangladesh with land surfaces just a metre or two above sea level will face serious threats to life and property with each storm surge and ocean upwelling.
“The global community has a moral and material responsibility to do all it can to limit the growing impacts of climate change on societies around the world,” he told delegates at the opening session of COP15.
Dr Pachauri said that the world faced the disappearance of sea ice by the latter part of the century, increases in heatwaves and tropical cyclones, decreases in water resources and loss of species. The loss of the Greenland ice sheet due to rising global temperatures could lead to a seven metre rise in sea levels.
“This would compare with levels estimated at 425,000 years ago when the palaeoclimate information suggests a four to six metre sea level rise,” he said.
He said that tens of millions of people are expected to be exposed to water stress unless developed and developing nations embraced change.
Norway has committed to cut its emissions by 40 per cent in 2020 and South Korea by 30 per cent. Australia, the biggest coal exporter and per capita polluter, has committed to cutting emissions by 5 to 15 percent from 2000 levels in the next decade.