October 22, 2009 08:31 ET

Climate Talks Could Go the Way of Trade Talks as Leaders Lose Nerve: WWF

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 22, 2009) - WWF, the global conservation organization, today issued a warning to the world that a lack of political nerve could prevent leaders from achieving a climate deal in Copenhagen.

"The world doesn't want Copenhagen to come to mean another Doha," said Kim Carstensen, Leader of WWF's Global Climate Initiative. He expressed concerns that the floating of trial balloons in the media and diplomatic manoeuvres behind the scenes represent an attempt by industrialized countries to lower expectations of success in Copenhagen and thereby dodge difficult decisions on slashing their emissions and funding the transition to a low carbon economy.

"The world is looking for leadership, but instead the leaders are starting to hand out their excuses in advance."

WWF identified Canada as one of the countries that has been actively trying to downplay expectations, and noted that Canadian officials have been widely criticized by scientists and diplomats for obstructing progress on the negotiations leading up to Copenhagen.

"Canada stands last amongst the G8 nations in taking action on climate change. Let's do better, rather than hold others back," said Keith Stewart, the director of WWF-Canada's Climate Change Program. "Canada should join the green job revolution that will solve this problem, not lead the charge to lower expectations of global action on climate change."

"Many countries in the developing world have already acted and are signalling that they can move further, but they also need the legal certainty and confidence that industrialized countries will meet their commitments," said Carstensen. "Substantial sectors of business and labour also are gearing up to move, but they are calling for the sort of certainty that comes from a legally binding global agreement. Investors and markets need confidence in order to really kick start the low carbon economy."

WWF has been tracking the growing diplomatic whisper campaign that references another plan on climate which excludes a binding legal agreement in Copenhagen, but said that a legally binding deal is necessary to avoid increasing predictions of climate catastrophe.

"Every ingredient bar one to make a deal is in place. Governments have had two years of negotiating times and space, they have all the science they need, all the text options and words they need, and all the arguments they need to be convinced that now is the time and place to do the deal," said Carstensen. "The only missing ingredient is political will."

"The US Senate must pass a bill in time for December, as their leadership has promised; but we certainly don't want to see other industrialized countries hiding behind what they think the US Senate will do," he added.

The deal should include, amongst other things, ambitious emission reduction targets from industrialized countries, recognition and support for developing country actions, a commitment to scaled-up climate financing, and a new institutional and governance arrangement under the guidance of the UN.

About WWF

WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with almost 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.

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