Heads of states may attend UN climate summit


Danish Climate and Energy Minister Connie Hedegaard speaks during a conference on Climate change, in New Delhi, on Friday. AP

“My Prime Minister was considering inviting heads of states at the last part of the Copenhagen summit. We are open to the idea,” said Connie Hedegaard, Danish Minister for Climate and Energy and chairperson of the Copenhagen summit.

At the end of the Delhi conference, she said it would be a high price to pay if Copenhagen turned out to be a failure. The conference debated on technology-related issues.

A consensus document on the technology framework might come in the last round of climate negotiations beginning at Barcelona on November 2. Barcelona is the last official stop for the climate negotiators before Copenhagen. The Delhi Declaration suggested creation of technology networks which emphasised on technology financing. But arranging for finance in the days of slowdown remains the biggest challenge.

According to UNFCCC executive secretary Yvo De Boer the developing world would be requiring about $ 300 billion every year by 2030 for “adaptation and mitigation”.

Financial help

The negotiators understand that such an astronomical amount is not easy to come by. They are fighting for an upfront finance of $ 10 billion to get things going. But even that appears to be a stiff target considering the fact that the UN Adaptation Fund set up following the 1997 Kyoto Protocol has only $ 100 million in its kitty. The poor response illiustrates the need to involve top political leaders at the climate summit to give it an additional thrust. 

If heads of state turn up at Copenhagen, it would be a departure from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change annual conference of parties, which is generally attended by environment ministers.

The Danish capital will be hosting the COP-15 between December 7 and 18.  Twelve years ago at COP-3 in Kyoto, the world negotiated the historic Kyoto Protocol which fixes definitive emission reduction responsibilities on 37 developed nations.

Crucial intervention by then US Vice President Al Gore helped reach a consensus at Kyoto, even though the Bush administration later refused to sign and ratify the treaty.
That’s why this time around there is an added emphasis to bring the USA on-board.
The negotiators are hopeful that President Obama may take actions matching the promises he made during the election.

Depending on negotiation progresses, the UN Secretary General may try to convene a special summit of a select group of nations to give a final push to the Copenhagen meet.

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