Attendees of the United Nations Climate Change Conference emphasized the need for firm commitments to climate change goals at the start of the meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, which is expected to be attended by 110 heads of state and governments from around the world.
The two-week meeting, the 15th conference of the 193 parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the fifth meeting of the 189 parties to the Kyoto Protocol, is the culmination of a process set in motion in Bali, where parties to the UNFCCC agreed to conclude negotiations on a new global deal in Denmark this year.
UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer said there was unprecedented political momentum for a deal.
‘World leaders are calling for an agreement that offers serious emission limitation goals and that captures the provision of significant financial and technological support to developing countries,’ he said. ‘At the same time, Copenhagen will only be a success if it delivers significant and immediate action that begins the day the conference ends.’
Negotiators must focus on solid and practical proposals that will unleash prompt action on mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology, reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries and capacity-building, according to U.N. climate change officials.
According to de Boer, governments must agree to by the end of the conference to three layers of action: fast and effective implementation of immediate action on climate change; ambitious commitments to cut and limit emissions, including start-up funding and a long-term funding commitment; and a long-term shared vision on a low-emissions future for all.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an aggregate emission reduction by industrialized countries of between 25% and 40% over 1990 levels would be required by 2020 in order to stave off the worst effects of climate change, with global emissions falling by at least 50% by 2050. Even under this scenario, there would be an only a 50% chance of avoiding the most catastrophic consequences.
More than 15,000 participants, including government delegates from 193 parties to the UNFCCC and representatives from business and industry, environmental organizations and research institutions, are attending the two-week gathering.