Obama steps into rich nation-poor nation divide on climate



“The two leaders agreed on the importance of working closely with the Danish Prime Minister to reach an appropriate agreement and of encouraging all developed and developing countries to play a constructive role,” the White House said in a summary of the calls.

Millions of people in low-lying Bangladesh are vulnerable to rising sea levels and other effects of climate change.

Obama also discussed the talks with Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

“He expressed his appreciation for the leadership role the Prime Minister was playing in work with African countries on climate change, and urged him to help reach agreement at the Leaders summit later this week in Copenhagen.  For his part, Prime Minister Meles stressed the importance of success in Copenhagen, and the need to find ways to make suitable progress on the mitigation, adaptation, and the provision of finance for the developing countries,” according to the White House summary.

Developing countries led by African delegates temporarily halted the talks Monday over concerns including the level of commitment from developed nations.

The U.S. effort to keep the talks heading toward an agreement also includes a new op-ed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the International Herald Tribune.

“Of course, the actions required of the developed and major developing countries will not be identical, but we must all do our part,” Clinton writes.

A huge issue, of course, remains the disagreements between China and the U.S., the world’s top two emitters of greenhouse gases, on issues including whether China will agree to make compliance with its pledged emissions targets open to outside verification. China has pledged to curb its emissions intensity – that is, emissions per unit of GDP – by 40-45 percent by 2020.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon tells the Associated Press that rich and poor countries must “stop pointing fingers” or else the talks could falter.

According to AP, the UN chief remains cautiously optimistic but warned that if negotiators for the assembled nations can’t resolve their differences before heads of state arrive at the talks, “the outcome will be either a weak one, or there will be no agreement.”

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