Concerns Copenhagen will be a mere ‘photo opportunity’

With less than three weeks to go until the start of climate negotiations in Copenhagen, British officials are anxious to dispel concerns that the talks will be a mere ‘photo opportunity’, producing just yet more ‘warm words’. Both David and Ed Milliband, Foreign Secretary and Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change respectively. yesterday emphasised the importance of the negotiations and stressed that Copenhagen could still deliver a “comprehensive” and “ambitious” agreement.

On Sunday, US President Barack Obama acknowledged that achieveing a legally binding deal at Copenhagen would be impossible. Obama needs the US senate to pass a climate change bill before he can commit to an international agreement.

Yesterday Achim Steiner, the UN Environment chief, warned of the high cost of delaying action on climate change and expressed concern that a lack of momentum would increase the risks of harm to both people and planet. Steiner commented: “”I believe that a deal [in Copenhagen] is still do-able. But any delay has real cost implications in economic, social and human terms and those implications must be at the forefront of the people’s minds as they go to Copenhagen.”

President Obama has expressed support for a Danish plan to delay an international agreement until mid 2010. The climate change talks could still be seen as a success if a politically-binding agreement is achieved, with a clear roadmap – and signals of rapid progress towards – an international, legally binding commitment.

Original article: UN environment chief Achim Steiner warns of high cost of climate delays. Guardian online, Monday 16 November