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Climate summit begins

A UN climate conference has opened for two weeks of negotiations among 192 nations to forge a pact to secure the world from calamitous global warming.

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Conference president Connie Hedegaard, UN climate chief Yvo de Boer and the UN’s chief climate scientist Rajendra Pachauri were set to address the thousands of delegates in Copenhagen on Monday.

During the summit, members of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will negotiate over reducing carbon emissions that trap the sun’s heat, inflicting potentially catastrophic climate damage.

They will also wrestle with building a mechanism to channel hundreds of billions of dollars in aid to poor countries, helping them reduce their greenhouse-gas pollution and shore up defences against drought, flood, storm and rising seas.

The meeting will peak on December 18 with more than 100 heads of state or government in attendance.

Negotiations have dragged on for two years, only recently showing signs of breakthroughs with new commitments from the US, China and India to control greenhouse gas emissions.

Speculation surrounds talks

What the summit will achieve is subject to global speculation.

The leaked email saga, known as “climate gate”, is strengthening the resolve among climate sceptics but the UN’s top official remains confident that the conference won’t fail.

Central to talks, will be the specifics, how much each country should cut emissions by and in what time frame.

UN hopes to secure committment

The United Nations hopes that the conference will deliver clear committments from world leaders.

“I think that at the end of this two-week session, I need to be able to show you a piece of paper that says this is what the US has committed for 2020, this is what the EU has committed for 2020, this is what Japan has committed for 2020. In other words, a sort of lump sum, where you don’t know who’s going to take responsibility for what, is not good enough,” Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of UN Framework Convention on Climate Change said.

The summit runs Decenber 7-18.