MOSCOW (Reuters) - The host of next month’s global climate conference said on Monday he saw momentum for a substantial, political deal to replace the Kyoto Treaty and said he hoped to convince top world leaders to attend.
With Kyoto set to run out in 2012, the talks are seen as the last chance for all countries to agree on painful measures needed to ease the pace of climate change.
Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen told Reuters he was optimistic that a politically-binding agreement could be agreed at the conference next month in Copenhagen but that the final legally-binding decisions would have to be taken later.
Rasmussen, speaking in an interview to Reuters in Moscow after meeting Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, said he hoped there would be a substantial enough agreement on the table to entice national leaders to attend.
“Convinced is probably too big a word, but I have decided to stay optimistic about this because I have been engaged in talks with many leaders in the last couple of months and I sense a very strong political willingness to conclude a result in Copenhagen,” he said.
Denmark will host United Nations climate deal talks on December 7-18 that aim to set ambitious targets for cutting greenhouse gases but also to raise funds to help poor countries tackle global warming.
Rasmussen said he was encouraged both by a statement at the United Nations in New York by Chinese President Hu Jintao and strong engagement from U.S. President Barack Obama.
“Everybody understands that we now have created a momentum and Copenhagen is really the deadline and, if we fail in Copenhagen, it will be a huge failure. I have chosen to stay optimistic about this but it’s not easy at all,” he said.
“Hopefully, I will be able to issue invitations for heads of state and government in a few weeks time,” he said. “I really believe that they will participate if it’s realistic that we could seal an ambitious deal in Copenhagen in December.”
Developing nations such as China and India say that rich nations must cut emissions by at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 -- far deeper than what is on offer.
Developed nations say the poor must also do more by 2020 to slow their rising emissions. China, the United States, Russia and India are the top emitters.
After their meeting, Putin warned that Russia would only sign up if all other major industrialized countries do so too, a position that Rasmussen saw as a logical position.
“It’s not a major setback, it’s quite obvious -- why should any country sign if not all countries sign?”
“It is a challenge for every single industrialized country in the world to deal with the climate change issue and that’s why we are working very strongly to reach a politically binding agreement in Copenhagen which would cover all the major countries in the world whether they are part of the Kyoto regime, as is Russia, or not, as is the U.S.A., for instance.”
Delegates at the final preparatory meeting in Barcelona said on Monday that time was running out. The United Nations urged the United States to set a 2020 deal for cutting greenhouse gases to help secure a deal in Copenhagen.
But Rasmussen said the timeframe is too tight for a legally binding agreement and this must come later.
“We simply can’t conclude all the legal discussion in all details in five, six weeks from now, so there will still be some work to be done after Copenhagen.”
“Our end goal is an internationally legally binding treaty for when the Kyoto treaty comes to an end in 2012.”
Reporting by Conor Sweeney; Editing by Richard Williams
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.