Environment ministers prepare for UN climate change summit

Copenhagen, Nov 16 (DPA) Some 40 environment ministers gathered Monday in Copenhagen for preparatory talks ahead of the UN climate change conference that opens next month in the Danish capital.

Ministers from key emitting countries including the US, China and India as well as African countries and low-lying island nations threatened by global warming and rising sea levels were among those present.

“When all countries of the world send ministers at such a high level, it indicates a real will to work for a climate deal in Copenhagen,” Danish Climate and Energy Minister Connie Hedegaard said.

Hedegaard said the two-day closed door session offered a chance to focus on the “tough issues.”

As hopes for a legally-binding deal in Copenhagen have faded, the focus has centred on achieving a politically-binding treaty at the Dec 7-18 summit.

That view was repeated Sunday by Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen at a breakfast meeting with leaders of the Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in Singapore.

Swedish Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the 27-nation European Union, said the environment ministers should aim to “finalise what can been achievable in December”.

The negotiations in the run-up to December summit had been “too slow, for too long time”, he said in an op-ed piece in the Stockholm daily Dagens Nyheter.

“Other countries have to follow the EU’s lead” and make commitments, noting that the US must “get onboard,” and that “China and other emerging economies must commit to emission cuts,” he said.