November 20, 2009 / 5:55 PM / 8 years ago

German climate adviser optimistic about Copenhagen

BERLIN (Reuters) - World leaders cannot afford to leave a U.N. summit in Copenhagen next month without a robust agreement to fight climate change, German government climate adviser Hans Joachim Schellnhuber said Friday.

Schellnhuber, head of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, said he was convinced the 200 world leaders going to Copenhagen for the summit would be able to thrash out a deal -- possibly with the help of alcohol.

“They can’t afford to go back home without an agreement,” Schellnhuber, an adviser on climate issues to Chancellor Angela Merkel, told a news conference in Berlin, ahead of the December 7-18 talks in the Danish capital.

“Leaders must live up to their responsibilities at long last in Copenhagen and put limits on climate change risks -- anything less than that would be admitting failure,” he said, adding he was optimistic because so many government leaders are attending.

The international community had set a December deadline to agree a framework to tackle global warming from 2013, but a rift has opened between developed and developing nations over who should cut emissions, by how much, and who should pay for it.

“Perhaps the breakthrough will come when a small group meets for a nice meal or with the help of some alcohol,” Schellnhuber said. “Or even without alcohol.”

He said he expected the negotiations to be long and intense.

“They need to go through the pain barrier in the negotiations,” Schellnhuber said.

Jochen Flasbarth, head of the German Environment Office, added at the news conference that “there’s no more room to maneuver” because of the body of scientific evidence about climate change. “There’s no room for lousy compromise.”

Germany is the world’s sixth largest emitter of greenhouse gases blamed for climate change.

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Reporting by Erik Kirschbaum; editing by Andrew Roche

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