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New York Summit prepares the way for Copenhagen

UN Chief says a one-day climate change summit has given fresh impetus to efforts to tackle climate change, reports Envido.

UN Secretary General has said that the chances of a global climate change deal being agreed later this year at December's crucial climate change meeting in Copenhagen had increased significantly following a one-day climate change summit in New York.

His optimism was the result of fresh commitments from Chinese president on climate change, Hu Jintao, who told the meeting that the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases would set a target to reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by a "notable margin". He also committed to planting new forests across an area the size of Norway, and producing 15 per cent of the energy from renewables by 2020 to tackle climate change. However, he stopped short of announcing detailed carbon emissions targets or investment plans, raising the prospect that China will wait until the Copenhagen meeting to fully announce its climate change plans.

The pledge prompted former-US vice-president Al Gore to praise China's leadership, while UK energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband said that Hu's speech represented "a big deal" for the climate change negotiating process.
Japan's newly elected Prime Minister, Yukio Hatoyama, made similar announcements. He pledged to cut carbon emissions by 25 per cent by 2020 and increase funding for low-carbon technologies in developing countries. Meanwhile, French president Nicolas Sarkozy proposed an additional meeting of major carbon emitters in November to settle some of the finer details surrounding the Copenhagen climate change negotiations.

Opinions remained divided on the overall success of the meeting after US president Barack Obama's highly anticipated speech on climate change met with a tepid response. The president reiterated his commitment to tackling climate change and praised US progress in developing low-carbon technologies and new climate change regulations. However, with the Senate still debating the proposed US Climate Change Bill, he failed to offer more detailed commitments on climate change, beyond a pledge to work for the phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies at this week's G20 meeting in Pittsburgh.

USA: China needs to quantify climate change aims

About 100 leaders attended the talks, ahead of the Copenhagen climate change summit, which is due to approve a new treaty on a replacement for the Kyoto Protocol to reduce carbon emissions.

The Chinese president said his country would curb its carbon emissions per unit of GDP by a "notable margin" by 2020 on 2005 levels.

The US chief climate change negotiator also poured cold water on some of the optimism surrounding China's commitment to set carbon reduction targets, noting that the significance of the move "depends on what the number is ". The proposal in the US Climate Change Bill to cut carbon emissions back to 1990 levels by 2020 still falls well short of China's demand for rich nations to deliver cuts in carbon emissions of up to 40 per cent by the same date.

Environmental groups and green businesses were left largely disappointed by proceedings with many now resigned to the fact that detailed proposals will not emerge until the Copenhagen climate change meeting in December.

Ifti Akbar, co-Managing Director at Envido responded by saying, "at best, it's probably a work in progress on cutting carbon emissions. But business needs more substance from the meetings in Pittsburg to tackle climate change."

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