Jens gets key role at climate talks

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Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg has been chosen to take part in a so-called “super group” of national leaders keen on pushing through a worthy conclusion to the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. At home, he’s being criticized for flying down to Copenhagen on a private jet.

Newspaper Dagsavisen reported Wednesday that Stoltenberg has been asked by his Danish counterpart to assume special responsibility for financing climate measures in developing countries. The financing is one of the most important and hotly debated issues at the conference that’s trying to halt climate change.

The goal has been to limit global warming to two degrees over pre-industrial levels. To do that, world leaders must agree to cut their countries’ emissions by as much as 40 percent, and that will be expensive and require financing.

Negotiations in Copenhagen have been extremely difficult, according to most involved, including Norway’s Minister for the Environment and Foreign Aid Erik Solheim.Now the world’s top leaders are arriving in Copenhagen, with US President Barack Obama due later this week. UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown is already there and Stoltenberg traveled on Wednesday, defending his choice of a private jet because it was the most efficient means of transport and could accommodate staffers. Others in Norway, including “folks on the street,” thought he should have “set an example” by traveling on a regularly scheduled flight or even taking a more environmentally friendly train.

Once there, reports Dagsavisen , Stoltenberg has been invited to be part of a group of top world leaders including Brown, Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Angela Merkel of Germany, to put pressure on negotiators to come to terms.

Torbjørn Giæver Eriksen, state secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, confirmed that Stoltenberg has been closely involved in preparations for the conference’s summit and that they’ve been going on for weeks. He also confirmed that Stoltenberg has been most involved in financing issues.

The Norwegian prime minister also was due to have bilateral talks with Brown, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Mexican President Felipe Calderón, according to Dagsavisen . Most have been singled out as being within “the inner circle” at the climate talks, in addition to Merkel and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has also arrived in Copenhagen, and is trying to put pressure on the 192 countries taking part in the conference to strike a deal.

“The world is watching us,” said Denmark’s prime minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen. “And holding its breath.”