Copenhagen Summit Heats Up in Final Days

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The UN's historic climate change conference in Copenhagen wraps up tomorrow. There are persistent fears that the end could come without a major, binding climate change agreement between the 193 countries. “The next 24 hours are absolutely crucial,” warned UN climate change official Yvo de Boer. (...continue reading)

More than 100 world leaders have recently arrived in the Danish capital to join the last push for an international committment to fight global warming. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) yesterday delivered a passionate speech on the need for immediate climate change action. He stressed the need for the U.S. to take a leading role in reducing greenhouse emissions.

The talks have been slowed by tensions between developing nations and industrialized countires. One key debate is over who ought to pay for emissions reduction programs and technology. Wealthier nations are being pressed to deeply reduce global-warming gas emissions. The U.S. is reluctant to increase its cuts.

There are also quibbles over policy language and details that have complicated negotations. Observers are hopeful that President Obama and other leaders can inspire a renewed sense of urgency that will lead to a last minute agreement.

One bright spot in the murky and sometimes chaotic process is a program called REDD - Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degredation. The UN initiative - which would pay countries with large forest carbon stocks to preserve their trees - could get a green light by tomorrow.

Meanwhile, demonstrators continue to clash with riot police around the city. Protestors and environmental activists are urging world leaders to work aggressively to reach substantial agreements that address global warming. 

We speak with Peter Thomson, environment editor for PRI’s The World, from Copenhagen, as well as J.P. Leous, of The Wilderness Society.