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Copenhagen report V Copenhagen report V
by Euro Reporter
2009-12-13 11:09:32
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Massive protests

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Copenhagen on Saturday to demand a strong global-climate pact, even as world leaders reiterated that the coming week’s talks will not lead to a binding legal agreement. Among the balloons and climate-themed sails waved during the massive demonstration flew the flags of left-of-centre European political parties, as well as signs reading "there is no planet B."

While most of the march was peaceful, riot police detained between 600 and 800 people around the Danish capital after some black-clad demonstrators threw bottles and smashed windows. And the number is growing," police spokesman Flemming Steen Munch said. The marchers spread out across six kilometres as they walked toward Copenhagen’s Bella Centre, the high-security site of the international talks.

Estimates ranged from 30,000 upwards to 100,000 protesters, all of whom flocked to the Danish capital from across Europe and the world.  "They marched in Berlin, and the wall fell. They marched in Cape Town, and the wall fell," South African cleric and Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu told a candlelit vigil of protesters. "They marched in Copenhagen — and we are going to get a real deal." Supermodel Helena Christensen gave a speech in which she described a trip to her mother’s home country of Peru. There, she said farmers, alpaca herdsmen and their families are already suffering the effects of climate change. Melting glaciers are threatening their water supplies and ability to grow food.


Crucial stage for the Chinese negotiator

The UN climate talks have entered the "crucial stage" after two draft texts were proposed by the chairs of the two major working groups of the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen, China's chief negotiator in climate talks said Saturday.  Su Wei was speaking a day after the working groups on long term cooperative action under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and on the Kyoto Protocol put forward their draft decision papers.

"The draft texts show that we are moving forward in our negotiations. We welcome the emergence of the draft papers," Su told a press briefing.  The emergency of draft texts indicated the talks had entered "a crucial stage," he said.  Government ministers arriving in Copenhagen have a week to work for agreement on the two draft texts before 110 heads of state and government convene here to agree on goals to avoid irreversible change in climate that scientists warn could be disastrous to the Earth.

The draft texts endorse goals to keep global average temperature increase within "1.5 degrees" or "2 degrees." The texts also commit developed nations to reductions of greenhouse gas emissions by "75-85," "at least 80-95," or "more than 95" percent from 1990 levels by 2050. These options, bracketed in the texts, are yet to be agreed on.


Browsing Copenhagen

Over the two weeks of this conference Copenhagen has been renamed Copenhagen. Everywhere you go the signs and banners hang from buildings or wrap around buses. Hope though does not leap from advertising banners but must have foundations in the actions of leaders. As this conference progresses huge steps need to be made if this word is to resonate with the millions whose lives are threatened by climate change.

Progress here is hard to track and comes in fits and starts. Friday was marked by disappointment in the outcome of the EU Council meeting - a conclusion that did not go ignored in the conference hall and a flurry of new texts from key working groups and country groups. From amongst these papers there must emerge the strong legally binding deal that puts the world on the path to a safe climate. One such paper, from the Alliance of Small Island States, describes the fair and ambitious deal that Stop Climate Chaos and civic society across the world have been calling for. Hope can be given meaning if this vision is embraced by all parties.

Sadly, the EU Council missed a major opportunity to inject some real momentum into the talks. Their meeting failed to raise their feeble emissions reduction target, neglected to address major loopholes in those same feeble targets, and for the most part rebadged existing aid to developing countries as a new climate fund. This absence of global leadership saw them awarded a 'Fossil of the Day Award'

All around the conference centre NGO activists are proudly wearing t-shirts asking "how old will you be in 2050?” The message is clear - today's leaders must act now if the children of today are to enjoy the safe environment they have had. It was with this message in the back of my mind that I joined a colleague from Oxfam to talk via the internet to over 30 schools across Scotland. Their understanding and commitment to their environment shames the feeble ambition shown by the rich nations here in Copenhagen. The questions they asked were heavy with their concern for people and wildlife around the world and while their understanding on climate change is impressive it is not right that we can only find the ambition so needed from our leaders in our children.

Responsibility for climate change falls now, today, on the leaders of the developed world and they should heed the calls from children who can see the future better than they can.

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Emanuel Paparella2009-12-13 11:54:46
Indeed, as a wise man in Palestine proclaimed some two thousand years ago, unless ye become like little children ye shall not only not enter the kingdom of God, but ye shall not save neither the earth, nor yourselves.

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