Major climate change deal within reach at UN summit
THE world is within reach of a new deal to stop global warming, it appeared last night as representatives from 194 countries embarked on last-ditch negotiations at a UN summit.
As the latest round of talks in Durban, South Africa, drew to a close, British Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne said he was optimistic that a new "road map" towards an international deal to cut carbon emissions would be agreed.
It would set a timetable for a legally binding agreement that commits countries to reduce their emissions. The EU wants this to be in place by 2015.
Despite the optimism, scientists warned that the size of the cuts on the table would fail to stop global temperatures rising above 2C -- generally considered to be the danger point at which there will be devastating floods, droughts and other extreme weather events.
The negotiations at the United Nations Climate Summit have become increasingly tense over the past 10 days, with accusations of "chequebook diplomacy" and protesters thrown out of proceedings.
The last attempt at a deal in Copenhagen in 2009 ended in failure and Mr Huhne said it could "all still go pear-shaped".
Hopes were boosted last night after the US unexpectedly came out in support of the "road map" and China also gave encouraging signals.
Mr Huhne said more than 120 countries now supported a timetable towards a legally binding agreement at some point in the future.
"That obviously puts a substantial amount of pressure on countries that are not signed up to our vision, and a number of them are beginning to back it -- you saw that with the US coming up and saying it's in favour of a road map," he said.
"A comprehensive global agreement is not beyond our reach. We can achieve it when we display flexibility and the will to compromise. We can show that all nations are indeed united by a common ambition: to protect our planet and our people." (© Daily Telegraph, London)