Speculation mounts over Copenhagen funding

Another day of frantic negotiation is expected at the Copenhagen Climate Summit as diplomats last night raised hopes that progress could soon be delivered on a number of key issues. Although at the same time British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his Australian counterpart both counselled that the talks remained on a knife edge and could still fail.

The latest phase of the talks got underway yesterday as climate change and environment ministers from around the world arrived in the Danish capital. Speaking in an opening address that also featured speeches from Prince Charles and Californian Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to "seal a deal" and reach a compromise on the key issues of emission targets and climate funding.

"No-one will get everything they want; but if we work together, then everyone will get what they need," he said.

The chair of the meeting Connie Hedegaard said that the talks had entered a "very distinct and important moment", adding that "it is very clear that ministers have to be extremely busy and focused over the next 48 hours if we are to reach an agreement".

Negotiations on key issues reportedly ran until 2am last night with talks resuming at 10am this morning.

Talks remain deadlocked on the subject of industrialised nations' emission targets and US calls for developing nations to submit to independent verification of their climate change programmes, and as a result any progress today is likely to centre on the issue of funding.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who represents the African group of nations, is expected to set out a new package of proposals later today and speculation is mounting that African leaders could back industrialised nations' calls for a two degree temperature target in return for the development of more ambitious funding mechanisms.

Meles has met with Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy in re cent days, and has reportedly spoken to US president Barack Obama about the new proposals. Brown hailed Meles' proposals as a "framework within which developed and developing countries can work together", while Meles himself said that there was now "near-total understanding" between the African bloc and the EU.

If he does sign up to the two degree target, Meles can expect a backlash from some poorer nations who have been pushing for any Copenhagen agreement to deliver significantly more ambitious emission reductions. Mithika Mwenda of the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance NGO led the criticism earlier today, issuing a statement arguing that Meles had "sold out" Africa.

"The IPCC science is clear - 2 degrees is 3.5 degrees in Africa - this is death to millions of Africans" he said. "If Prime Minister Meles wants to sell out the lives and hopes of Africans for a pittance - he is welcome to - but that is not Africa's position."

But with industrialised and emerging economies steadfastly refusing to sign up to the more ambitious 1.5 degree target proposed by poorer nations any compromise will be seen as a major breakthrough.

There is also speculation that progress could be made on how the climate funding developing nations have been promised will be raised. Debates are still raging over whether to impose a levy on aviation and shipping to help raise fresh funding, while a joint proposal from Norway and Mexico that up to $40bn a year could be raised between 2013 and 2020 through a combination of public funds and an expanded carbon market has reportedly secured significant support.

The UK and other EU countries are said to have signalled support for the proposal, which would come into effect once the initial proposed $30bn fast-track fund has ended in 2012, while the US is also giving the idea serious consideration.

Meanwhile, tensions both inside and outside the Bella Convention Center are running extremely high with NGOs and media representatives furious at queues of up to nine hours to enter the hall and police expecting large protests later today.

The logistical issues are set to worsen over the next few days as world leaders and their security teams arrive and the number of representatives from NGOs allowed to enter the building is cut.

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