The United States and a coalition of the world’s island nations and least developed countries are placing growing pressure on swiftly developing countries — most notably China — to commit to firm CO2 emissions reductions targets at the Copenhagen summit. As the U.S.’s chief climate negotiator, Todd Stern, told reporters there’s “no way” to solve the global warming problem “by giving the major developing countries a pass,” poor states and island nations proposed that all countries sign an agreement with legally binding CO2 reductions targets. China rejected that idea.
The Alliance of Small Island States — composed of 43 nations highly vulnerable to global warming and sea level rise — was joined by 48 of the world’s poorest countries in proposing that the Copenhagen summit set a goal of holding global temperature increases to 1.5 C (2.7 F) above pre-industrial levels. But as the small nations were making that plea, the UK’s Met Office said that given rapidly rising concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere, meeting a 1.5 C goal was virtually impossible and that holding global temperature increases to 2 C (3.6 F) will be difficult, even in the highly unlikely event that global greenhouse gas emissions peak in 2020.