[JURIST] UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon [official website] attempted [remarks] Tuesday to temper expectations for the UN Climate Change Conference [official site] in Copenhagen set to take place in a month, saying that it might not result in a treaty. The meeting, which will host world leaders, is an effort to replace the controversial Kyoto Protocol [JURIST news archive], which several nations, including the US, did not sign. While still expressing hope for a binding agreement, Ban said that conference could still be a success. Ban said in remarks after meeting with UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown that:
We will continue, together with the world leaders and particularly key developed countries and key major emerging economies, so that we can have a comprehensive, balanced, equitable and binding agreement in December this year.Despite lowered expectations, Ban also still expects [Financial Times report] a political agreement on mid-term targets, mitigation actions, help for vulnerable countries, and agreements on managing support and technology. The Copenhagen meeting will begin on December 7 and run for a week and a half.
First and foremost, the developed countries should lead this campaign, considering all their historical responsibilities, and also considering that they are the countries who have most of the capacities, financial and technological. Now, we need at this time more than that, we need political will. If there is political will, I am sure that there is a way we can conclude a binding agreement in Copenhagen. We will continue until such a time. I am reasonably optimistic that Copenhagen will be a very important milestone. At the same time, realistically speaking, we may not be able to have all the words on detailed matters.
This is not the first time a UN official has drawn attention to the obstacles standing in the way of a binding agreement. In October, a UN official working in Bangkok on the precursor meeting said that US hesitancy to pass a climate bill could doom the conference. Also last month, some 1,500 climate change negotiators from around the world met under UN auspices in Bangkok [official website] as a precursor to the major climate change meeting slated for Copenhagen in December. Western countries have been unable to convince developing nations to commit to reductions in emissions when the Western world has not done so either. In March, the US Special Envoy on Climate Change announced [JURIST report] at a UN Convention on climate change that the US is committed [video] to the creation of an international treaty designed to combat global warming, but that such efforts would only succeed if they were economically feasible. Negotiations on a new treaty began [JURIST report] last year.