Europe

Viewpoints

Copenhagen Climate Summit

A wind park can be seen as morning breaks in Copenhagen on Dec. 13. (Photo: Axel Schmidt/ AFP-Getty Images)

Argentina – Buenos Aires Herald (Dec. 16): As other countries struggle to cut greenhouse gas emissions, two ex-Soviet industrial powerhouses have found themselves heirs to an unlikely windfall. Russia and Ukraine head into the Copenhagen summit with credits for billions of tons of carbon dioxide they no longer belch, thanks to the collapse of the Soviet industrial machine that gave them favorable terms under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The situation allows the two countries not only to pollute more but also sell carbon credits to other countries for millions of dollars. Now environmentalists and some European countries are urging Moscow and Kiev to give up those credits and strengthen efforts to slash global carbon production. Both countries say they won't do so without a fight.

Denmark – Cop15 Copenhagen (Dec. 13): On Saturday, tens of thousands of people joined an overwhelmingly peaceful march in winter cold Copenhagen to demonstrate for action on climate change. However at one stage, violence flared at the tail end of the demonstration, when masked protestors threw cobblestones through the windows of the historic stock exchange and Foreign Ministry buildings. The police rounded up 968 [people] in a preventive action against a group of youth activists. As of Sunday morning, only a handful was still detained.

Germany – Deutsche Welle (Dec. 15): German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who says Germany will commit to reducing greenhouse emissions by 30 percent from 1990 levels by 2020 or even 40 percent if others agree to steep cuts, urged developed and developing nations to make a "constructive contribution" to an agreement. The crucial conference in the Danish capital, which is due to end Friday, has been marked by deep divisions between rich and poor nations. "We know that time is running out," the German chancellor told reporters. "I will not hide the fact that I am somewhat nervous whether we will manage to achieve everything."

India – Hindustian Times (Dec. 16): Serious differences have emerged between India and Australia over the direction of talks at the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, with New Delhi making a strong pitch for extending the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012 and Canberra wanting obligations on emerging economies as well. Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh reportedly walked out of a meeting with his Australian counterpart Penny Wong, accusing that Australia sticks to the "single track" that requires all parties, including developing economies like India, to produce a legally binding treaty before the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol ends in 2012.

Indonesia – Jakarta Post (Dec. 16): Indonesia has to work hard to re-raise the issue surrounding the ocean’s role in climate change after the ongoing Copenhagen climate talks decided to drop it from the negotiating draft text on emissions cuts. Before the Copenhagen talks, ocean and marine issues had been found in at least 18 paragraphs of the 161-page draft text. But after the president of the conference tabled the seven-page draft text last week, all paragraphs related to ocean and marine issues were omitted.

Japan – The Japan Times (Dec. 16): U.N. negotiators at the COP15 climate change conference were racing against the clock Tuesday, trying to conclude some form of agreement before nearly 120 heads of state began arriving Wednesday. Differences over fundamental issues remained, with Japan being accused by developing countries and NGOs of attempting to kill the Kyoto Protocol. No sign of a breakthrough had been seen as of Tuesday morning on fundamental issues that have divided developed and developing countries since the beginning of the conference last week.

Spain – GRAIN (Dec. 14): La Via Campesina and a number of other groups will be leading a day of action in Copenhagen to put agriculture front and center in the discussions over climate change. According to our calculations, the expansion of the industrial food system is the leading cause of climate change. Through its reliance on fossil fuels, massive exports, market concentration, erosion of soils and expansion of plantations, it generates 44-57 percent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions. This industrial food system is also completely incapable of assuring people's food and livelihood needs as the world moves further into climate change. Already it has left a billion people without enough food to eat, and hundreds of millions of more people will go hungry in the coming years if the food system is not reorganized.

South Africa – The Witness (Dec. 16): The U.N.’s climate conference was deadlocked yesterday on the key issues, with a new draft text lacking any figures on targets for limiting global warming, as world leaders raised the pressure for results. The latest proposal gave no figures for a long-term goal of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, a peak for these emissions, an intended limit to global warming, nor on financing for poor countries exposed to climate change. These core questions are being debated in parties of ministers, in the hope of brokering a consensus by Friday, when the deal will be put to leaders from around the world.

United States – Miami Herald (Dec. 15): What happens at the global summit in Copenhagen is of utmost importance for Latin America and the Caribbean. Many Latin American and Caribbean countries have already made commitments to reduce their carbon footprints. The region's two largest economies have led on climate policies, with Brazil focused on reducing deforestation, and Mexico on implementing its "Special Climate Change Program,' a comprehensive low-carbon development model. Costa Rica, which has pledged to become the first carbon-neutral country in the world, is a global pioneer in paying landowners from a gasoline tax fund for forest conservation. Argentina's renewable energy programs in rural areas provide electricity at low cost, positively contributing to productivity and job creation.

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