United Nations climate change conference kicks off in Copenhagen to clinch ambitious climate change deal

7 December 2009

The highly anticipated conference opened today in Copenhagen (Denmark). This two-week meeting, the fifteenth Conference of the 193 Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the fifth meeting of the 189 Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, is the culmination of a process set in motion in Bali, where Parties to the UNFCCC agreed to conclude negotiations on a new global deal in Denmark in 2009.

Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen announced that 110 heads of state and government will attend the conference at its conclusion.

The Prime Minister pointed to the fact that climate change knows no borders. "It does not discriminate, it affects us all" he said. "And we are here today because we are all committed to take action. That is our common point of departure ñ the magnitude of the challenge before us is to translate this political will into a strong political approach," he added.

The urgency to act was underscored by Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the UN
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, who told the conference that global emissions would need to peak by 2015 for the world to stay below a two degrees Celsius temperature rise.
"The costs of responding to climate change will become progressively higher as time goes on, therefore we must take action now," he said.

UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer said there was unprecedented political momentum for a deal. Yvo de Boer spoke of three layers of action that governments must agree to by the end of the conference: fast and effective implementation of immediate action on climate change; ambitious commitments to cut and limit emissions, including start-up funding and a long-term funding commitment; and a long-term shared vision on a low-emissions future for all.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an aggregate emission reduction by industrialised countries of between minus 25% and 40% over 1990 levels would be required by 2020 in order to stave off the worst effects of climate change, with global emissions falling by at least 50% by 2050. Even under this scenario, there would be an only a 50% chance of avoiding the most catastrophic consequences.

More than 15,000 participants, including government delegates from 193 Parties to the
UNFCCC and representatives from business and industry, environmental organizations and research institutions, are attending the two-week gathering.

From the The United Nations Climate Change Conference Press Release