US President Barack Obama said disenchantment over the Copenhagen climate talks was “justified,” but defended the chaotic outcome as the top UN envoy urged an end to post-summit recriminations.
The climate change conference held in the Danish capital ended last week with a non-binding agreement that the EU has blasted as a Sino-US stitch-up that will do little to curtail global warming.
“I think that people are justified in being disappointed about the outcome in Copenhagen,” Obama told PBS television on Wednesday after the summit ended with only vague prescriptions to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
“The science says that we’ve got to significantly reduce emissions over the next 40 years. There’s nothing in the Copenhagen agreement that ensures that that happens,” he said.
‘KIND OF HELD GROUND’
However, Obama added: “What I said was essentially that rather than see a complete collapse in Copenhagen ... at least we kind of held ground and there wasn’t too much backsliding from where we were.”
Sweden, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, this week called the summit a “disaster” and declared both China and the US, the world’s two biggest polluters, responsible for the result.
Exposing the stark divide between rich and developing nations, Britain and China have traded verbal blows over who was to blame for the Copenhagen outcome.
Brazil has blasted Obama, while India has congratulated itself for emerging from the summit without any constraints on its booming growth.
In frenzied backroom haggling last Friday, leaders of some two dozen countries put together a “Copenhagen Accord” that strived to save the grueling 12-day UN marathon from collapse.
A total of US$30 billion was pledged from 2010-2012 to help poor countries in the firing line of climate change, and rich nations sketched a target of providing US$100 billion annually by 2020.
The deal set the aim of limiting warming to 2˚C, but did not set binding targets to reduce the emissions of gases that scientists say are heating up the world’s atmosphere to dangerous levels.
In her annual Christmas broadcast, Queen Elizabeth II was to urge the 54 Commonwealth nations to keep taking the lead on global issues such as the environment.
“It is important to keep discussing issues that concern us all — there can be no more valuable role for our family of nations,” Britain’s monarch and the head of the Commonwealth will say, according to extracts released on Thursday.
In a study released on Wednesday, scientists said Earth’s various ecosystems, with all their plants and animals, will need to shift about 0.42km per year on average to keep pace with global climate change.
How well particular species can survive rising worldwide temperatures attributed to excess levels of heat-trapping “greenhouse” gases hinges on those species’ ability to migrate or adapt in place.
The farther individual species — from shrubs and trees to insects, birds and mammals — need to move to stay within their preferred climate, the greater their chance of extinction.
“Things are on the move, faster than we anticipated,” research co-author Healy Hamilton of the California Academy of Sciences said. “This rate of projected climate change is just about the same as a slow-motion meteorite in terms of the speed at which it’s asking a species to respond.”
The research suggests denizens of mountainous habitats will experience the slowest rates of climate change because they can track relatively large swings in temperature by moving up or down slope.
Thus, mountainous landscapes “may effectively shelter many species into the next century,” the scientists wrote in the study, which was to be published in yesterday’s issue of the journal Nature.
Climate change will be felt most swiftly by inhabitants of largely flat landscapes, such as mangroves and prairie grasslands, where the rate of warming may more than double the 0.42km per year average calculated for ecosystems generally, the study found.
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete
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