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55 countries sent climate pledges to U.N.

Australia PM warns of 'tight' elections after poll slip
Sydney (AFP) Feb 2, 2010 - Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd warned upcoming elections would be "very tight" on Tuesday as the revamped opposition rose in polls following the defeat of controversial emissions trading laws. Rudd confirmed the legislation would be introduced for a third time as the Coalition, now led by the colourful Tony Abbott, closed to within four points of the ruling Labor Party in the latest Newspoll. "This will be a very, very tight election. It's always been my view," Rudd told reporters, urging his party "to be really on (its) game." "Remember, the government's majority is what, eight seats? Two or three percentage points? Doesn't take much to move that," he said. "If two or three people in a hundred change their vote then Mr. Abbott's the prime minister, that's the bottom line." Rudd's emissions scheme, the centrepiece of efforts to slash carbon pollution by between five and 25 percent of 2000 levels by 2020, collapsed for a second time in December, just ahead of vexed climate talks in Copenhagen.

The opposition Liberal Party, dominant partner in the opposition Coalition, dumped its leader Malcolm Turnbull for supporting the scheme, replacing him with Abbott who strongly opposes the bill. The Newspoll of 1,146 voters gave the Coalition 48 percent support, its best showing since 2007 elections, while dissatisfaction with Rudd rose four points to 38 percent, his highest level since becoming prime minister. General elections could be held as soon as August with the lower house's term set to expire early next year. Rudd defended his cap-and-trade programme as "the least costly and most effective way to deal with climate change," which had been endorsed by other governments around the world. Abbott on Tuesday launched an alternative scheme proposing a billion-dollar (890 million US) fund to pay for cleaner power stations, tree-planting and trapping carbon pollution in agricultural soil.
by Staff Writers
Bonn, Germany (UPI) Feb 2, 2009
Most major greenhouse gas emitters submitted their emissions-reduction plans to the United Nations in a move that infused with life an accord reached at a climate conference in Copenhagen last year.

As of Tuesday, 55 countries had sent in their action plans, including the United States, Canada, the 27 members of the European Union, India and China. Nations detailed their pledges to reduce emissions by 2020, some by naming concrete reduction targets, others by promising to make economic growth more sustainable.

The countries are responsible for nearly 80 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, the United Nations said.

Yvo de Boer, the top U.N. climate official, said the national commitments invigorate negotiations aimed at coming up with a successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol, which runs out in 2012.

"The commitment to confront climate change at the highest level is beyond doubt," de Boer said in a statement. "Greater ambition is required to meet the scale of the challenge. But I see these pledges as clear signals of willingness to move negotiations towards a successful conclusion."

Experts have blasted the so-called Copenhagen Accord, a text patched together in the final hours of the Copenhagen climate conference. The non-binding text was merely noted but not adopted by the 192 conference parties.

It sets the limit of global warming to 3.6 F and provides short- and long-term finance to help poor nations cope with climate change; it also set 2015 as a review year to see if global action needs to be more urgent to meet the challenge. But it remains a voluntary text, and even if nations commit to it, they are not legally bound to honor their pledges.

De Boer last month vowed that the accord could be of help as it will be used as "a political tool that … we can very usefully deploy to resolve the remaining issues in the negotiating process."

To meet the United Nations' soft Jan. 31 deadline, nations simply reiterated their previous pledges.

India and China promised to reduce their carbon intensities -- the level of CO2 emitted per economic unit -- by up to 25 percent and 45 percent, respectively.

The EU pledged to reduce its emissions by 20 percent by 2020 compared with 1990 levels, or even by 30 percent if an ambitious global deal is reached.

Washington promised to cut emissions "in the range of" 17 percent by 2020 compared with 2005 levels if the Senate endorses a corresponding climate-change bill.

Leading energy experts urged U.S. lawmakers to get behind this crucial U.S. climate legislation.

"The pledges made by countries like Japan, China, Europe and India show a commitment to collective, transparent action on a scale never seen before," Jennifer Morgan, head of the World Resources Institute's climate and energy program, said in a statement. "The United States should have no doubt that these countries plan to build their economies with clean energy."

The Senate, she added, "should act now to enact comprehensive climate legislation."

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Climate accord gets boost, but where's the money?
Paris (AFP) Feb 1, 2010
The world's major carbon polluters have reaffirmed commitments to combat global warming, providing a much-needed boost to December's Copenhagen Accord. But more than a month after the nearly scuttled climate deal, rich nations have yet to say when and how they will deliver emergency funds to help poor ones begin to green their economies and cope with climate impacts. The 30 billion dolla ... read more

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