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All-night talk as time runs out

COPENHAGEN: Ministers will have to continue to work round the clock to remove at least five stumbling blocks to ensure that the ongoing United Nations Climate Conference (COP15) delivers a successful outcome, Connie Hedegaard, the conference"s president said yesterday.

They"d already worked late into the night, but "it is very clear that the ministers have to be extremely busy and focused in the next 48 hours if we want to make the success we are trying to make," said Hedegaard, who is also Denmark"s former energy and environment minister.

The impasse revolves around not only the emission reduction targets that will be set for developed countries, but also the actions that emerging economies must deliver to contribute to global effort to slow down the global warming.

"We are still not there when it comes to commitments," she said. "One should not underestimate the complicated but very important issue of how to measure, report and not the least verify what developed countries and developing countries are going to do," she said.

These are very crucial parts where there are "redlines to different parties," she said.

Meanwhile, the issue of securing long-term finance in helping developing countries to adapt to global warming has also remained contentious, as developed countries have only promised for short-term financing.

"We will not get enough substantial finance on the table unless we have some innovative ideas," she said.

There is also controversy over the governance structure for the finance.

Voices have become louder to include aviation and transportation into the global-mitigation legally binding plan. Nicknamed "bunker fuel", the aviation and transportation are considered one of the main greenhouse gas emitters but were left out of the Kyoto Protocol.

Ever since the conference started eight days ago, the negotiations have seen a continuous roller-coaster ride, with the media complaining about the increasingly complicated nature of the negotiations.

Hedegaard said that there has been a determination to bring negotiations to an end "or it could continue endlessly more complicated."

"This process is not about ramming the interests of the few down to the throat of many," said Yve de Boer, the UN"s top climate official.

National interests are diversified, with small island countries concerned with the survival of their homes as the sea levels rise, oil producers worried about the future of their economy and major industrialized nations afraid of losing their jobs.

"You have major developing countries whose overriding concerns are economic growth and poverty-eradication," de Boer said.

People talk about emission reductions in emerging economies, but "400 million people in India don"t even have access to electricity," de Boer said. "How do you switch off the light bulbs you don"t have?"

China is resolute about its targets of reducing carbon emissions per unit of GDP by 40 to 45 percent by 2020, Xie Zhenhua told a press conference late yesterday.

Xie also reiterated other actions that China has promised to take to help slow down global warming, such as technological innovation and ensure the use of clean and renewable energy and energy efficiency.

However, Chinese delegates have also repeatedly stressed that emission reduction targets are not legally-binding for developing countries such as China under the Kyoto Protocol.

And China has stood by the Kyoto Protocol.

All-night talk as time runs out

Island on the brink: An aerial view shows a resort island in the Maldives this week. Maldives has a population of some 400,000 islanders, whose livelihood from fishing and tourism is being hit by climate change. Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed said last month that a warming of just 2 C would risk swamping the sand-rimmed coral atolls and islets, dotted with palm trees and mangrove clumps, that form his small country. Delegates of island nations have been among the most vocal at the climate change summit in Copenhagen, insisting that prompt global action is needed to save their lands and cultures. Reuters

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