UN: Time running short for climate-change deal

Time is running short to pull together a global climate-change deal in crucial talks in Copenhagen in December, the United Nations climate-change head said on Wednesday.

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is due to be concluded in Copenhagen in December, but hopes are fading that an agreement can be struck.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Pacific Islands Forum summit of 15 regional leaders, the UNFCCC’s executive secretary, Yvo De Boer, said there were many obstacles to be overcome before finding agreement on emissions reductions to 2020 and beyond to 2050.

“We are around 120 days of real time away from those negotiations in Copenhagen and we are only about five weeks in negotiating time away from those negotiations,” he told journalists.

“Time is getting tight and I am getting concerned that we still have a long way to go,” he told journalists.

The forum countries include several nations made up of low-lying atoll archipelagos, which are among the most vulnerable to rising sea levels and changing weather patterns.

Pacific island countries are the face of climate change, said De Boer.

“Meetings like this are important to show the face of climate change and to indicate that countries most likely to be affected seriously by climate change want to see vigorous change in Copenhagen,” he said.

He said a planned declaration by the two-day forum summit, which finishes on Thursday, would send a strong reminder about the importance of striking a deal at Copenhagen.

“A strong call from Pacific leaders will, I think, be an important signal on the road to Copenhagen, a signal that I think we are in dire need of at the moment.”

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on Wednesday committed his country to being a strong voice for the small Pacific nations in global climate change talks.

De Boer said any effective climate-change deal must deliver ambitious emission reductions by developed countries, with major developing countries agreeing to slow the growth of their emissions in return for financial assistance.—AFP