Page last updated at 17:19 GMT, Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Copenhagen row over Ban Ki-moon's 2C remark

By Roger Harrabin
Environment analyst, BBC News, in Copenhagen

Ban Ki-moon: "We must not exceed two degrees"

A controversy has erupted in Copenhagen after the UN secretary general said talks should focus on keeping global temperature rises below 2C (3.6F).

In an interview with BBC News, Ban Ki-moon said the target was a realistic ambition for the climate summit.

But developing nations delegates, who want emissions capped to limit the rise to 1.5C, were furious.

They said Mr Ban had overstepped his brief and accused him of supporting a deal that suited the rich nations.

Mr Ban, in his BBC interview, said: "There is some difference between the countries of small island developing states and developed countries.

It is a fact if temperatures get to 2C, that spells almost doom to our countries
Bruno Sikoli
Least Developed Countries bloc chair

"What we need is that we must contain and limit the global temperature rise within the limit that science tells us.

"If we can agree to a two degree limit, that will also be very significant."

Responding to Mr Ban's comments, Bolivia's ambassador Pablo Solon said: "This is the secretary general. He can't take sides on an issue like this.

"The scientists tell us that 2C offers a 50-50 chance of avoiding dangerous climate change. That is not good enough," he added.

"If you are the captain of a boat that's beginning to sink, do you decide it's realistic for only 50% of the passengers to survive?

"If we get 2C, we'll put half the people in the world in serious danger."

Bolivia supports a target for emissions cuts projected to result in not more than a 1C rise.

Bruno Sikoli, from Lesotho, chair of the Least Developed Countries bloc, told BBC News: "We are in a negotiating process, but the issue of science is not negotiable. It is simply a true fact if temperatures get to two (degrees), that spells disaster and almost doom to our countries."

Developing countries believe they have now mustered at least 100 votes - the majority in the UN in favour of a target of not more than 1.5C.

But the UK Met Office say their calculations suggest global temperatures are already heading to almost 1.5C.

And Mr Ban said that with all the major powers talking about 2C that was a more realistic ambition.

However, the pledges that have been announced by developed nations so far fall well short of the cuts needed to remain within a 2C temperature rise.

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