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UN Climate Talks Back On Track

UN Climate Talks Back On Track After Brief Suspension

New York, Dec 14 2009 4:10PM Talks resumed at the United Nations summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, today after African nations briefly suspended negotiations over the future of the Kyoto Protocol, currently the only legally binding pact on climate change.

While many industrialized countries are hoping to merge the Protocol and the outcome of the Copenhagen meeting, which entered its second and final week today, into a single agreement.

However, their developing counterparts, among the least responsible for greenhouse gas emissions, want to extend the Protocol past 2012, when its first commitment period ends, and hammer out a separate agreement this week in Copenhagen.

“I think this is not just an African concern,” Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), told reporters today. “I think that the vast majority of the countries here want to see a continuation of the Kyoto Protocol.”

To this end, informal consultations kicked off in Copenhagen today, he said, with the Kyoto Protocol topping the list of discussion topics.

Mr. de Boer said that talks are halfway up the hill whose summit is an agreement reached by world leaders at the end of the two-week Copenhagen meeting.

“I think we’re queuing up for the cable car, but the rest of ride is going to be fast, smooth and relaxing,” he noted.

One of the remaining challenges, the official pointed out, is “how to capture countries’ commitment, countries’ willingness to act in a final agreement at the end of this week.”

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The ministerial portion of the conference, to be attended by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, will kick off tomorrow, while the high-level segment – which will see the participation of 115 heads of State – will begin later this week.

Mr. Ban, who departs for Copenhagen today, emphasized at his end-of-year press conference in New York today that “decades of effort will come down to this one critical week” in the Danish capital.

“Seldom in history has a choice been so clear,” he said, exhorting negotiators to redouble their efforts and make the final push towards a new agreement.

“If everything is left to leaders to resolve at the last minute, we risk having a weak deal – or no deal at all,” the Secretary-General said. “And this would be a failure of potentially catastrophic consequence…

“As we depart for Copenhagen, I am confident that a fair deal is within our reach – a deal that can be embraced by all nations, large and small, rich and poor.”


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