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UN confirms 55 nations met Copenhagen Accord deadline

The UN confirmed yesterday that 55 developed and developing countries submitted emission reduction plans to the Copenhagen Accord ahead of the 31 January deadline.

UN officials said the countries that had completed submissions account for 78 per cent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, with most of the world's largest emitters, including the US, China, India, the EU, Japan, Brazil and South Africa, having made commitments under the agreement.

The large emitters were joined by a host of developing countries who provided details of their climate change action plans, including Ethiopia, Maldives, Sierra Leone and Singapore.

There were few surprises in the submissions with each of the major emitters confirming the emission targets and action plans they set out during the Copenhagen Summit last year.

For example, the US said that it would cut emissions 17 per cent on 2005 levels by 2020, while China pledged to curb its carbon intensity by 40 to 45 per cent on 2005 levels by the same date.

According to reports, two large emitters - Mexico and Russia - failed to meet the deadline. However, the UN had said that the cut-off date was intended as a "soft deadline", and Russia's commitment to curb emissions by 15 to 25 per cent on 1990 levels by 2020 had been added to the official document by this morning.

Other countries are also expected to make further submissions in the coming weeks.

Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UNFCCC, said that the fleshing out of the Copenhagen Accord represented an "important invigoration" of the UN climate change talks, although he reiterated that those talks would continue under the two tracks of Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol.

"The commitment to confront climate change at the highest level is beyond doubt," he added. "These pledges have been formally communicated to the UNFCCC. Greater ambition is required to meet the scale of the challenge. But I see these pledges as clear signals of willingness to move negotiations towards a successful conclusion."

The next round of formal negotiations is scheduled to take place in Bonn, Germany at the end of May. But De Boer confirmed that he had been urged by a number of countries to schedule further meetings ahead of the Bonn summit and said that he was seeking further guidance from governments on whether there is an appetite for additional negotiations.

Experts said that the emission targets included in the submissions fell well short of what is required to meet the Copenhagen Accord's stated goal of limiting temperature rises to two degrees above pre-industrial levels.

However, diplomats expressed optimism that it could provide the framework for a more ambitious deal, noting that it represents the first time that large emerging economies such as China and India have made written commitments to the international community that they will curb their carbon emissions.

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