UN global warming summit gets mixed reviews

UN chief Ban Ki-moon praised leaders for their desire to cut carbon emissions. Others urged more action from the key players, the US and China.

The one-day United Nations summit on global warming Tuesday is getting mixed reviews, from the UN chief praising the progress made to commentators criticizing the biggest polluters – the United States and China – for each waiting on the other to act first.

About 100 heads of state attended the gathering, where they presented proposals and concerns about how to reduce carbon emissions.

The meeting was aimed at unclogging near deadlock over a global pact on cutting emissions. It came just three months ahead of another international summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, where nations will try to set new carbon reduction targets to replace those set by the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon commended participants at the meeting, and said it had put the world one step closer to completing a deal in December, the BBC reported.

President Barack Obama acknowledged during his speech at the summit that the US as well as other developed nations “have a responsibility to lead” in cutting carbon emissions, though he also emphasized that rapidly developing nations, such as China and India, must do their part, too, the Christian Science Monitor reported Tuesday.

But some are questioning whether Mr. Obama even has the ability to deliver climate change legislation in his own country before the Copenhagen summit, reports Bloomberg.

The House has passed a bill that would establish a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions and seek to reduce emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020. But in the Senate, most Republicans and some Democrats have said they will not support the legislation.

Developing countries – most of which emit low emissions – urged wealthy nations to act quickly and decisively, reported Xinhua, China’s official news agency.

At the summit, China announced it would set ambitious domestic targets for reducing the carbon intensity of the country’s economy, but did not give specific numbers. Carbon intensity is “a measure of how much carbon dioxide the country’s economy emits for every unit of gross domestic product,” as the Monitor explained.

An editorial in The New York Times said China should be more specific in its pledge to control emissions, making a “real and verifiable commitment.” It also called on the US to pass the legislation necessary to commit the US to binding cuts in emissions.

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