Slow talks to be bolstered as more leaders arrive in Copenhagen

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Copenhagen - The expected arrival of some of the world leaders, including the Prime Minister of China Wen Jiabao, today will likely boost the climate negotiations which have been a bit sluggish in the past few days.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was one of the first Heads of State to arrive on Tuesday as did UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

It is expected that some100 Heads of State and Government, including President Jacob Zuma and US President Barack Obama would have arrived by Friday when the conference is scheduled to end.

One man who is set to miss the conference though is Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi who was assaulted on Sunday by a man known to be suffering from mental illness. Berlusconi suffered a broken nose, two broken teeth, and cuts to his lips, in an attack that had sent shockwaves throughout the political circles.

Tuesday also saw the arrival of Britain's Prince Charles who delivered an address to the delegates attending the talks at the Bella Center.

Negotiators are not giving anything away and even the normally open South African delegation has been quite media shy, probably and indication of the intensity of the talks.

Delegation offices have been the site of regular lobbying and meetings since Tuesday with American offices notably attracting immense media attention.

The G77 led by Africa and China has in the meantime vowed to do everything possible to defend the Kyoto Protocol from the developing nation who wanted the treaty to be left out of the negotiations.

Developing nations are arguing that any climate deal without the Kyoto Protocol will only reinforce the position of rich countries who have been blamed for the climate change problem due to the high emission of greenhouse gases coming out of the developed world.

Central to their concerns is that failure by the industrialized nations to commit to the Kyoto Protocol may damage the 1997 treaty, which committed rich nations to reduce greenhouse gases, with financial penalties for failure.

Poor countries also need an estimated $200 billion by 2020 to fund both mitigation and adaptation and a funding commitment from rich countries has to be part of any deal reached in Copenhagen on Friday.

South Africa is also eyeing a World Bank funding of $3.7 billion plus addition funds of up to $500 million from the Clean Technology Fund. Although the funding is focused on South Africa, it has significant implications for the southern Africa region.

According to the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs, the money will have an impact on 200 million Africans in the region and will help to create jobs and stimulate economic growth and reduce poverty.

Officials also link the funding to the South African commitment to lower carbon pathways and long term mitigation research conducted in the country.