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Copenhagen report Copenhagen report
by Euro Reporter
2009-12-09 09:13:43
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Last, best chance: UN climate conference opens

The largest and most important U.N. climate change conference in history opened Monday, with organizers warning diplomats from 192 nations that this could be the best, last chance for a deal to protect the world from calamitous global warming. The two-week conference, the climax of two years of contentious negotiations, convened in an upbeat mood after a series of promises by rich and emerging economies to curb their greenhouse gases, but with major issues yet to be resolved. Conference president Connie Hedegaard said the key to an agreement is finding a way to raise and channel public and private financing to poor countries for years to come to help them fight the effects of climate change.

Hedegaard — Denmark's former climate minister — said if governments miss their chance at the Copenhagen summit, a better opportunity may never come. "This is our chance. If we miss it, it could take years before we got a new and better one. If we ever do," she said. Denmark's prime minister said 110 heads of state and government will attend the final days of the conference. President Barack Obama's decision to attend the end of the conference, not the middle, was taken as a signal that an agreement was getting closer. The conference opened with video clips of children from around the globe urging delegates to help them grow up in a world without catastrophic warming. On the sidelines, climate activists competed for attention to their campaigns on deforestation, clean energy and low-carbon growth.

Mohamad Shinaz, an activist from the Maldives, plunged feet-first into a tank with nearly 200 gallons (750 liters) of frigid water to illustrate what rising sea levels were doing to his island nation. "I want people to know that this is happening," Shinaz said, the water reaching up to his chest. "We have to stop global warming." At stake is a deal that aims to wean the world away from fossil fuels and other pollutants to greener sources of energy, and to transfer hundreds of billions of dollars from rich to poor countries every year over decades to help them adapt to climate change. Scientists say without such an agreement, the Earth will face the consequences of ever-rising temperatures, leading to the extinction of plant and animal species, the flooding of coastal cities, more extreme weather events, drought and the spread of diseases.

"The evidence is now overwhelming" that the world needs early action to combat global warming, said Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an U.N. expert panel. He defended climate research in the face of a controversy over e-mails pilfered from a British university, which global warming skeptics say show scientists have been conspiring to hide evidence that doesn't fit their theories. "The recent incident of stealing the e-mails of scientists at the University of East Anglia shows that some would go to the extent of carrying out illegal acts perhaps in an attempt to discredit the IPCC," he told the conference.

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Copenhagen Summit: Disagreements to Dominate Climate Talks


Disagreements on how to tackle global warming will be front-and-centre when 192 nations gather in Copenhagen, Denmark, this week, analysts say. Organizers of the U.N. climate change conference, which starts Monday, aim to emerge with an agreement to reduce worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. But the issues are so contentious that world leaders have already agreed to put off a binding treaty until next year and instead seek a nonbinding interim deal on emissions, The New York Times reported Sunday.

Among the areas of disagreement are who should pay for the reductions, the newspaper said. Poorer nations argue they are more vulnerable to world temperature changes and want wealthier nations to agree to far deeper carbon emissions cuts than they have so far.  Also, the Times said, developing economies such as China, Brazil and India resent pressure to decarbonise their energy systems and claim trade rivals the United States and Western Europe are seeking advantages.

The newspaper also noted an intra-European struggle is ongoing over each nation's carbon quotas, along with disagreements on how much help should be given developing countries.

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Americans' belief in global warming sinks as Republicans shift


A rise in skepticism among Americans over global warming is mostly due to changes among Republicans, according to a new national poll. The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey, released Monday, indicates that two-thirds of all Americans believe global warming is a proven fact. That's down 8 percentage points since June 2008, with views among Democrats holding steady and Republicans' belief in global warming dropping 11 points.

"The growing skepticism among Republicans, with no matching shift among Democrats, suggests that the changes measured in this poll may be a reaction to having a Democrat in the White House rather than a shift in underlying attitudes toward global warming," said Keating Holland, CNN polling director. The poll's release come as a United Nations climate summit opened in Copenhagen, Denmark. That global conference began under a cloud of accusations, after international attention the past two weeks over hacked e-mails that suggest some scientists faked data to support the argument of global warming.

But Holland noted that polls released last month from other organizations have found similar shifts in views on global warming for several months. That indicates the changes in the new CNN survey are not the direct result of the media attention to the leaked e-mails from climate researchers, he said. According to the survey, roughly a third of the people who believe in global warming think it is due to natural causes, rather than manmade causes such as industrial emissions. As a result, the number who say that global warming is caused by humans has dropped from 54 percent last summer to 45 percent now.

The poll indicates the number who say the United States should reduce emissions even if other countries do not follow suit has also dropped, from 66 percent in 2007 to 58 percent today. "That drop is due to roughly equal changes among Republicans and Democrats, suggesting that economic conditions, rather than political factors, may be at play," Holland said. Why does a majority support lowering emissions when most Americans no longer think emissions cause global warming?

"Americans may have other reasons to support a reduction in carbon dioxide and other gases," Holland said. "Pollution is pollution, and the country has been worried about clean air long before global warming became a topic of discussion." The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted December 2-3, with 1,041 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 4.5 percent for the overall sample.


       
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Emanuel Paparella2009-12-09 14:28:08
When humankind is extinct there will be no Democrats and no liberals around; neither will there be any Republicans or conservatives. Clever by half, or downright stupid?


If humankind ends up extinct, nobody will answer that question and Heidegger’s famous question why is there something rather than nothing will have been answered as far as life is concerned. Is this line of thought redolent of Nihilism? Indeed, if there is no God to answer and observe that mankind and life is no more, it will not matter a dish of lentils that once upon a time there was life around, nobody will ever remember it; the whole show will ultimately have proven itself purposeless and meaningless within time and space, and the Nietzschean Uberman will have revealed himself an intellectual and moral dwarf thinking it clever to go around at three in the morning in a morally ravaged earth, ringing a madman’s bell and proclaiming God dead and himself “enlightened.”

Humankind has come close to extinction at least three times. What saved it, besides fortuitous and indeed providential circumstances was the conspiracy of hope rising out of the ashes of destruction and chaos. Whether or not such a conspiracy is to be found in Copenhagen or the EU in general, remains to be seen.


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