Leaders Work To Thrash Out Accord at Copenhagen UN Conference

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and USA Secretary of State Hillary Clinton


On the final day of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen, the world's leaders are working hard to achieve a meaningful and binding agreement.

The arrival of US President Barack Obama, and his meeting with Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiaboa in particular, appear to have imparted a positive thrust to the talks, which had seemed over the past few days to have reached a deadlock. Arriving in the Danish capital, Barack Obama reiterated the United States' commitment both with regard to funding for the world's poorer countries and with regard to reducing atmospheric pollution. He confirmed his country's amenability to "cutting CO2 emissions by 17% in 2020, and by over 80% by 2050".

China, however, has been voicing strong doubts in recent days precisely in connection with the hypothesis of an 80% cut. Beijing also appears to harbour reservations with regard to a proposal for an international monitoring system to monitor action taken to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Chatting with journalists in a break in the talks, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that such positions "represent obstacles in the path of the negotiations in Copenhagen”.

These obstacles, however, could be overcome with a compromise on a new hypothesis for a final agreement, which is expected to provide for an 80% cut in CO2 emissions in the world's wealthier countries and a 50% cut in the world's poorer and developing countries by 2050.