London Summit Set to Include Climate Change Talks

By | March 12, 2009

A summit meeting on the financial crisis in London next month will tackle the issue of climate change, which the U.N. chief had planned to make the focus of a separate gathering in New York, diplomats said.

Worried that the G20 meeting in London would sidestep concerns about global warming, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had wanted to invite U.S. President Barack Obama and other leaders to New York this month for what U.N. diplomats and officials called a “mini summit” on climate change.

Ban had hoped that Obama would use what would have been his debut appearance at the United Nations to confirm that his administration was reversing the policies of former President George W. Bush, who rejected the U.N. Kyoto Protocol that set binding targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

But U.N. officials and diplomats said Wednesday that Ban had shelved plans for a separate climate summit because Obama could probably not attend. They also said there was little need for a separate U.N. climate meeting since the participants at the London summit would be discussing it there.

Leaders from the G20 group of old and new economic powers meet on April 2, seeking a collective response that could restore confidence in a shattered global financial system.

Western diplomats familiar with the agenda said that Ban was expected to participate in the London climate discussions.

A planning document for the summit, part of which was obtained by Reuters, explained the point of raising global warming at the London summit: “We must not allow the financial turmoil to distract us from meeting the challenges of climate change and development.”

“It is possible leaders will want to consider the link between economic recovery and moving to a low carbon growth path, as well as climate aspects of IFI (international financial institutions) reform,” the document said.

Russia had opposed discussing climate change in London, saying it wanted to keep the focus on the financial crisis. But Britain and other countries insisted on it, diplomats said.

Climate discussions among G20 finance ministers will feed into negotiations ahead of a U.N. climate conference in Denmark at the end of 2009, the planning document said.

“The aim is to support and complement the United Nations process and we look forward to discussing a range of mechanisms including, in particular, further development of carbon markets,” it said.

Around 190 nations have agreed to work out a new U.N. climate treaty in December in Copenhagen to step up a fight against warming that the U.N. Climate Panel says will bring more heat waves, droughts, floods and rising seas.

Ban will be hosting a high-level climate change meeting in New York in September on the sidelines of the annual gathering of all 192 states in the U.N. General Assembly.

U.N. diplomats and officials said there was still a possibility that a smaller climate summit could be organized before September and that Obama might attend.

Obama and Ban discussed climate change and other issues in Washington Tuesday. The U.N. chief was the third international leader to be invited to the White House since Obama took office in January. (Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

Topics New York London Climate Change

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