New York Climate Summit

A one-day climate summit in New York yesterday saw about 100 world leaders attend ahead of the crucial Copenhagen Climate Change Conference in December.

China, now the world's biggest polluter, taking the shameful crown from the United States, seemed to make the biggest commitment with President Hu Jintao saying that the country would cut carbon emissions by a "notable margin" by 2020.

The United States' climate change envoy, Todd Stern, was reported to have said that China's stance was helpful but that they needed to "provide figures".

US President Barack Obama didn't provide any figures for his own country nor did he say anything ground-breaking or commital, prompting criticism that the US, producing around 20% of world pollution, is taking too long to act.

Britain's own Gordon Brown had said, two days before the summit, that the Copenhagen Conference is in danger of collapse if world leaders neither attended nor made committments towards a low-carbon world economy and was understood to have been trying to convince other world leaders to attend Copenhagen. Brown was the first world leader to commit to Copenhagenyet he has been accused of failing to provide strong leadership in Britain's own green initiatives.

Whilst China stole the headlines, Japan's new Prime Minister, Yukio Hatoyama, announced the "Hatoyama Initiative", pledging to cut Japan's carbon output by 25% by 2020 (compared t 1990 levels).

UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, said the talks had privded fresh impetus for Copenhagen whilst formwr US vice-president and environmental activist Al Gore praised China for its loose committment.

The countdown now ticks until the 7th December although France's President Nicolas Sarkozy has called for leaders to meet again in mid November. It remains to be seen whether our leaders are prepared to make any tough decisions.