Monday, 7 December 2009

Copenhagen:UN leaders say agreement possible

By Geoffrey Lean Last updated: December 6th, 2009

So it is about to begin. There is still the sound of hammering echoing through the cavernous Bella centre at Copenhagen where tomorrow the climate summit will finally open after two years of negotiations. Though it will not produce a new treaty or legally binding agreement the top UN officials at the meeting are stressing that a breakthough political agreement – which would lead to a treaty next year – is, despite widespread suggestions to the contrary a few weeks ago, possible.
Achim Steiner, the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, says: “The world can reach an agreement that is positive, effective and compatible with the science. The next two weeks will go into the history books for good or ill. ”
The UN is drawing encouragement from the unexpected number of commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions (from rich countries) and to reduce their rate of growth (from the industrialising developing ones) that have come in over the last weeks. Even countries that were not expected to do so even months ago – like China,India and the United States – have put offers on the table. Yvo de Boer – who, as Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, is in charge of the negotiations – notes that ” never before have so many different nations made so many firm pledges together” . He goes on – richly mixing his metaphors - “Copenhagen needs to be a turning point because of that window of opportunity.”