Copenhagen Conference Gets Down to Work Amid Calls for Results

The international climate conference in Copenhagen, Denmark enters its second day amid reminders global warming is already underway and calls to come up with a solid, workable deal in the days to come.



Working sessions have begun and that means negotiators are faced with tackling the issues on the table.  The goal is to come up with substantive, but workable solutions to cut greenhouse gas emissions, promote new, eco-friendly technologies, but also promote economic growth and investment and help the less developed nations to adapt to these new conditions.

The U.N. top climate official, Yvo de Boer reminded delegates they have their work cut out.

"Negotiators need to come up with, during the next week, with solid proposals that can constitute the foundation stones an agreed outcome," de Boer said.

There are reminders of what is at stake, with the U.N. weather agency reporting that this decade is likely to be the warmest on record and 2009 the fifth warmest year since record keeping began in 1850.

The head of the World Meteorological Organization, Michel Jarraud, said most areas of the world had above normal temperatures in 2009.

"In large parts of southern Asia, central Africa, these regions are likely to have the warmest year on record," Jarraud said.

Most scientists believe the warming trend is mainly caused by human activity, especially the use of fossil fuels and the cutting down of forests.  Skeptics say global warming is part of a natural cycle of climate change.

In Copenhagen, experts and officials alike are putting the emphasis on what people and governments can do to cut the emission of greenhouse gasses.

Scientists say a 25 to 40 percent cut in carbon-dioxide emissions is needed to control global warming. The European Union, China, and India have already pledged reductions.  The United States is waiting for Congressional approval for a proposal put forward by the Obama administration.

The U.N.'s de Boer says there is still much discussion about the pledges.

"What I have heard representatives of both Europe and the United States say is that the target that China has tabled can be improved upon," de Boer said.  "What I have heard representatives of Europe and China say is that the target the United States has tabled can be improved upon.

De Boer added that African countries and other less developed nations say nobody's targets are good enough at the moment.

In Washington Monday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declared greenhouse gasses a "threat to public health and the welfare of the American people."  That opens the way for the agency to potentially regulate emissions, if Congress does not.

In Copenhagen the EPA finding has been welcomed as a positive step.  Damon Moglen is global warming campaign director for the environmental group, Greenpeace.  He tells VOA tougher action must follow.

"This is am important first step, but it is only a first step,"Moglen said. "We need to see EPA regulation of greenhouse gases immediately and we need to see aggressive regulation of greenhouse gases."

Moglen says the EPA announcement risks being seen as a political gesture unless the U.S. puts, higher emissions cut proposals on the table here.  And, he says President Obama needs to take a clear lead on climate change when he attends the summit next week.

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs