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Merkel says news from Copenhagen is 'not good'

BERLIN, Dec 17 (AFP) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday that reports from the climate summit in Copenhagen were "not good" but hoped the arrival of world leaders at the meeting would unblock negotiations.

"The news reaching us is not good," she said.

"At the moment, the negotiations do not look promising but I of course hope that the presence of more than 100 heads of state and government can give the necessary impetus to the event."

Merkel is to travel to the Danish capital later Thursday and address the summit, where differences between rich and poor countries over fighting global warming have created an impasse.

"Many people in the world are going to be looking to see whether we manage to reach a solution," she said.

She called pledges by the United States, the world's number two polluter after China, "not ambitious enough", noting they amounted to a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of only four percent compared to 1990.

But she called on developing nations to step up their commitments as well.

US President Barack Obama has said he will table an offer when he arrives in Copenhagen Friday to curb CO2 emissions in the world's largest economy by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020.

The EU has pledged to cut emissions by 20 percent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels, but also offered to increase that to 30 percent if other major polluters do the same.

Merkel said the Copenhagen summit would be a failure if nations did not agree to cap global warming at two degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels.

She argued that the cost of allowing the atmosphere to heat up any more would be far higher than a change of lifestyle now, calling for a "new path of global development".

"At this hour, I don't know if that will be successful," she said of the two-degree goal. "I will do everything I can, together with our environment minister, to achieve that."

She called for a binding agreement by mid-2010 to implement any deal in Copenhagen, coupled with international oversight.

MySinchew 2009.12.17

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