December 16, 2009 10:50 ET

Copenhagen: Curse or Cure?

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK--(Marketwire - Dec. 16, 2009) - Little of substance has been decided in the texts now being passed to ministers and soon to go before Heads of State in Copenhagen, WWF warned today.

"In many ways the final sessions have produced more disagreement rather than less on key issues as national negotiators dig in," said Kim Carstensen, leader of WWF's global deal. "As the really hard decisions go forward to higher levels, it becomes more likely we will end up with high words on principle and less likely we will get detailed words that will work in tackling climate change."

"Significant movement by the government of Canada could help break this log-jam" said Gerald Butts, President and CEO, WWF-Canada, who is in Copenhagen. "So far, Canada has brought very little to the table but we have a lot to offer and to gain from a fair, ambitious and binding global deal."

Carstensen said the competitiveness and intransigence of large powers was largely responsible for the mess the talks had become. "At the higher levels, it is lawyers building loopholes for the sake of large interests rather than nations negotiating the moral and effective ways to enact the measures that science says are necessary."

WWF said that the world is currently on track for runaway climate change, with commitments put forward by parties adding up to levels of global warming that may well reach 4 degrees C above pre-industrial levels – a recipe for disaster.

"Large nations can bully and spin their way out of effective climate action, but there will be no way to spin or bully our way out of climate change. The world will look back on this conference from a state of climate chaos or from a state of narrowly averted climate crisis. When we look back, will we be talking of the cure of Copenhagen or the curse of Copenhagen."

In the latest developments, all night sessions failed to produce a financial framework for assisting developing nations to adapt to climate change and reduce emissions.

The debate on strengthened emission reduction targets for the historically biggest emitters from industrialized countries has not progressed beyond the utterly insufficient offerings made by the developed world before Copenhagen.

"Texts in almost all crucial areas of the negotiations - such as technology cooperation, adaptation and forest protection – has been seriously stripped of anything firm over the last 24 hours", said Carstensen.

"Negotiators from the US have been trying to hold the line on too many things big and small and in the process the big picture has been lost – it is time for the moral leadership of US president Barack Obama to assert itself in line with the hopes and expectations of the world," Carstensen said.

"China also has to take a higher moral ground and face the contradiction between it requiring international scrutiny of the greenhouse gas inventories of other nations while declining it for itself."

"Europe could act boldly in line with the scientific imperatives rather than act incrementally on the basis of what others are doing."

"We have three days left. Our planet can't afford delay, so leaders have to take over and rescue the process."

Available for Comment

Gerald Butts, President and CEO, WWF-Canada, gbutts@wwfcanada.org – who is in Copenhagen
**Please contact via email.
Keith Stewart, Climate Change Program Director, WWF-Canada, 647-328-5518, kstewart@wwfcanada.org – who is in Toronto 

For free broadcast quality climate change videos www.climatetalks.tv

This press release and associated material can be found on www.panda.org

WWF– World Wide Fund For Nature (also known as World Wildlife Fund)

Contact Information

  • WWF-Canada
    Tara Wood
    Head of Press
    WWF International
    Natalia Reiter
    +41 79 873 8099
    Media conference WWF
    Greenpeace, Oxfam
    12.30 Asger Jorn, Hall H,
    Bella Centre Copenhagen