International gathering on climate change opens in Germany

3rd July 2011, Comments 0 comments

An international gathering on climate change opened here Sunday to prepare the ground for a UN summmit on the issue in Durban, South Africa in December.

The meeting, attended by representatives from some 35 countries, was opened by Germany's Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen and South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashbane.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was due to address the gathering later Sunday.

In her weekly video podcast broadcast on Saturday, she called for the Durban meeting to hammer out a global, legally-binding agreement to ensure that global warming, due to carbon emissions, be limited to two degrees Celsius.

"A number of countries have announced (in the wake of the 2010 Cancun summit) voluntary measures, but these will not suffice to reach our objective," Merkel said.

"We also need measures, targeted measures, and if possible treaties that are legally binding. That's what will be difficult. But in any case, time is running short as the Kyoto Protocol is soon to expire," she added.

European Union and US leaders have however already warned that there will be no binding deal on emissions at this year's climate summit in South Africa.

"The good news is that there is a general recognition of the necessity of a legally-binding agreement," EU climate action commissioner Connie Hedegaard said in April.

"The bad news is no legally-binding agreement deal will be done in Durban."

The key issue for participants ahead of Durban is how to bring timid agreements reached in Cancun, Mexico in December to life.

© 2011 AFP

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