Copenhagen, concerns and expectations

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Copenhagen is apparently much busier than usual and the 15,000 delegates, environmentalists and journalists on hand for the climate conference have made the air appear less chilly.

A globe depicting global warming is seen inside the United Nations Climate Change Conference center in Copenhagen Dec. 7, 2009. The United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009, also known as COP15, kicked off at the Bella center in Copenhagen on Monday. Varaious activities were held by the participants in and outside the conference center appealing people to combat global warming and climate change. More than 100 world leaders are to attend the conference in Copenhagen.[Xu Suhui/Xinhua]

Hopes are high for the pivotal environmental gathering.

Expectations for the conference surged before the meeting, though worries also existed for whether the gathering would disappoint the world by falling short of a consensus on greenhouse gas emissions cuts.

Everyone is well aware how tough the negotiations could be -- a positive result requires dedication and compromise after so many difficulties and setbacks at previous talks.

The focus in Copenhagen will be a final agreement to succeed the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol, whose modest emission cuts for 37 developed nations expire in 2012.

Connie Hedegaard, Danish climate and energy minister elected to chair the talks, said political will would "never be stronger" than now.

"This is our chance," she said. "If we miss it, it could take years before we get a new and better one -- if ever."

It is hoped that all parties would take their due responsibility and show wisdom and courage in striking a final deal to enable the implementation of the principles and plans in combating climate change.

What at stake is not the interests of certain countries or groups. A delay in the progress during the meeting would have lingering effects on later efforts to push for global sustainable development.

"The clock has ticked down to zero. After two years of negotiations, the time has come to deliver," Yvo de Boer, the UN climate chief, said in the conference's opening address.

In his speech, de Boer envisioned the best possible results for the summit -- an agreement for immediate action to curb climate change; an ambitious plan for emission reductions and a common vision to cope faced with a deteriorating environmental situation.

The challenges are real -- studies show that existing pledges by the world's nations have fallen short of the emissions reductions that scientists say are needed.

But the world's nations have shown their recognition for the weight of the problem, and more than 100 national leaders will arrive at the summit talks next week.

It is hoped that sincere discussions among the heads of state and government will narrow their differences and help pave the way for an end of the two-decade drag on the issue.

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