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16 December - Ministerial session opens

COP15 - plenary room.

Ministerial segment of COP15 opens


World leaders gathering in Copenhagen face a 'defining moment in history', United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said yesterday (15 December) at the opening plenary of the Ministerial segment of COP15.


119 other leaders including Barack Obama of the US, Wen Jiabao on China and Manmohan Singh of India arrive in the next 24 hours, making it among the largest summits the world had ever seen.


Mr Ban told delegates on Tuesday: 'We are here to seal a deal. We do not have another year to deliberate. Nature does not negotiate with us. We know what we must do. We know what the world expects. Our job here and now is to seal the deal, a deal in our common interest.'


With just a few days until the official closing of the conference, the Danish chair of the meetings, Connie Hedegaard, urged delegates to overcome their disagreements.


'We can't risk failure. No one here can carry that responsibility. That means that the keyword for the next two days must be compromise,' she said.


In an emotive address she told delegates: 'We can't do anything without you, the parties. You must compromise, you must commit, and you must deliver – now.'


'Not only because of the climate. There is even more at stake. This is also about the world’s confidence in their global leaders' will and ability to cope with the challenges of our time.'


The White House expressed confidence that a climate deal can be reached. 'The President believes that we can get an operational agreement that makes sense in Copenhagen,' White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told a briefing in Washington on Tuesday.


Yvo de Boer, the UN's chief climate official, said that the world needed 'ambitious results', saying that the groundwork had been laid for action on mitigation, adaptation, technology cooperation, finance, REDD and capacity-building.


Mr de Boer, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which oversees the negotiations, added (PDF 88.19KB): 'It is now up to you to resolve outstanding issues and to lead the world into action.'


Earlier delegates heard the Prince of Wales warn them that the 'eyes of the world' were on them at 'this critical time'. In a keynote speech in the Danish capital he reflected 'It is no understatement to say that, with your signatures, you can write our future,' he said.


In its lead editorial the Evening Standard newspaper in London urged leaders to make 'momentous decisions'. 'Guarded optimism is in order. It is in no one's interest to stymie a deal: leaders after a legacy may secure success,' it said.


Related links

119 Leaders (PDF 44.46KB)

Eyes of the world are on you, UN chief tells climate summit, Yahoo News 15 December 2009  

Obama sees climate deal as summit deadline nears, Yahoo News 15 December 2009

Statement at the high-level segment by Yvo de Boer, (PDF 88.19KB) COP15 15 December 2009

Prince Charles urges countries to 'listen to the cries' of the poor

Momentous deicisions on climate change, Evening Standard 16 December 2009

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