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Copenhagen hopes fading, warns Seychelles

November 16, 2009

by Guy Dinmore in Rome

Published: November 16 2009

Small and sinking but still vocal, the Seychelles on Monday added its voice to a chorus of dismay that the Copenhagen conference on climate change is set to fall short.

“We cannot at this hour allow countries which are primarily responsible for polluting our atmosphere to hold hostage the survival of the planet,” James Michel, president of a republic of just 85,000 people, told the United Nations World Summit on Food Security.

In his written text, Mr Michel had been going to lay the blame at the door of “a small group of countries”. Asked by the Financial Times if he was referring to China and the US, he did not identify states by name but spoke of the ”the greed of countries always wanting to grow”.

“Copenhagen was a beacon of hope, but its brightness is fading. We cannot afford for Copenhagen to be just a talking shop on climate change. It must be a forum on action to avert disaster,” Mr Michel said.

Some of the Seychelles’ more than 100 islands are already facing the forced displacement of their inhabitants, some 1,600 km off the east coast of Africa.

Mr Michel said that for the present there was no talk among developing countries of boycotting Copenhagen next month, but talks over the next few days would focus on what chances there were of “saving” the conference.

He said it would be “interesting” to see how the European Union reacted to the declaration by Barack Obama, US president, that the climate summit would not produce a legally binding agreement to tackle global warming.

Mr Michel urged people around the world to put pressure on their governments to take action. “Things are moving fast. We only learned early today that the light of Copenhagen is dimming,” he said.

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