World faces last chance to avoid fatal warming: EU

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - The world faces a final opportunity to agree an adequate global response to climate change at a U.N.-led meeting in Copenhagen in December, the European Union’s environment chief said on Friday.

A farmer takes rain water for his daily use at a dried-up pond on the outskirts of Yingtan, Jiangxi province February 24, 2009. REUTERS/Stringer

World leaders from about 190 countries meet in Copenhagen in December to try to agree a global framework to replace the Kyoto Protocol on fighting global warming, which expires in 2012.

“It is now 12 years since Kyoto was created. This makes Copenhagen the world’s last chance to stop climate change before it passes the point of no return,” European Union Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas told a climate conference in Budapest on Friday.

“Having an agreement in Copenhagen is not only possible, it is imperative and we are going to have it,” Dimas said.

With greenhouse gas emissions rising faster than projected, Dimas said it was essential that big polluters such as the United States and emerging economies in the Far East and South America also sign up for an agreement. “President Obama’s commitment to re-engage the United States fully in combating climate change is an enormously encouraging sign that progress is possible. So are positive initiatives coming from China, India, Brazil and other emerging economies.”

Dimas said an agreement in Copenhagen should aim to limit global warming below the critical 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial times, or less than 1.2 degrees above the current level, by at least halving global emissions by 2050 from 1990 levels.

“Developed countries will have to go further, with cuts of 80-95 percent in order to (enable) developing countries to lift themselves out of poverty,” he said.

Dimas said rich nations had a moral obligation to lead the war against global warming and the EU was ready to commit to deeper emissions cuts, provided that developed countries match those cuts with similar reductions.

“The European Union is committed to increasing its reductions targets from 20 percent to 30 percent (by 2020) on two conditions,” Dimas said.

“Firstly that our partners in the industrialized world commit to comparable cuts, secondly, that developing countries agree to take action in line with their capabilities.”

However, he said richer countries should provide financial incentives for emerging economies to facilitate a deal.

“The Copenhagen agreement will have to involve a major scaling up of financial aid to help developing countries to both mitigate emissions and adapt to climate change,” Dimas said.

“If there is no money on the table there will be no deal.”

Reporting by Gergely Szakacs, Editing by Peter Blackburn