Tough global deal on climate change is unlikely

04/11/2009 17:37


By Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent

UK TELEGRAPH- Some 190 countries are due to meet for the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen next month to agree a new deal to stop global warming.

Scientists have recommended rich countries should cut greenhouse emissions by between 25 to 40 per cent by 2020, while poorer nations also agree to make cuts.

But Mr Ban said many countries are simply not in a position to sign up to legally-binding targets.

He said the best the world can hope for is a "political commitment" to work towards targets. He also said money pledged by rich nations to help vulnerable countries to adapt to global warming will have to be "scaled up" from the £90 billion per annum currently on the table.

"It may be realistic if we think Copenhagen will not be the final word on all these matters," he said. "But if we agree on a strong politically-binding commitment that will be I think a reasonable success. Then the post Copenhagen negotiations will continue so that we have a legally-binding agreement as soon as possible."

Mr Ban insisted he was not setting out a "plan B" but simply being realistic.

"I am not lowering the bar, I am looking at a very realistic point of view," he said. "Each and every country has their own domestic constraints when they go back – no country will be totally tree from this, that is the difficulty. It is a very complex process including all these verification systems, targets and money. It is not an easy task. That is why I am saying Copenhagen is not the final word."

President Barack Obama is currently struggling to pass legislation in the US that will cut carbon emissions and allow the country to sign up to a legally-binding target. However the law is unlikely to be passed before December.

"There are some key countries – I do not want to name them – that are not ready," Mr Ban said. "I am going to engage with those countries together with other leaders."

Mr Ban said that world leaders are willing to sign up this year to the principle of cutting carbon in order to keep temperature rise below two degrees C (3.6 degrees F), as recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

"This deal should be the one where all countries – commensurate with their abilities – should participate with a clear vision that can chart the long term goals of limiting long term temperature rise within the range of scientific recommendations," he said.

However, the details of how much each country will cut emissions and over what timescale will have to be worked out next year after Copenhagen.

"A politically-binding target should be immediately effective so that post Copenhagen, we immediately enter into negotiations again for legally-binding targets," Mr Ban added.

Mr Ban also said the world was willing in principle to pay poorer countries to adapt to the worst effects of climate change, such as flooding and drought, as well as switching to a low carbon economy. However, again, he said the amount of money paid by each country from public funds will take much longer to agree on.

The EU has suggested the rich world pays out around £90 billion per annum from 2020, of which around £45 billion will come from public funds.

"[The money] needs to be scaled up as we go," he said. "Without financial support from developed countries there are many developing countries that simply do not have the money to address climate change – that is why financial support is the key."