The Copenhagen climate summit is a "test of modern leadership" and a failed outcome would almost certainly condemn the planet to disaster, Mikhail Gorbachev said on Thursday in an interview.
The Nobel laureate and last leader of the Soviet Union also said that Russia had put forward serious targets for curbing carbon emissions and should not be cast as a spoiler going into the December 7-18 talks. World leaders faced an unprecedented challenge in forging a lasting solution to global warming and crafting a fair way of coping with its impacts, Gorbachev said by email in response to written questions.
Compromises on policy "virtually guarantee a temperature increase of around four degrees Celsius, well into the catastrophic risk range," he warned. "The 'business-as-usual' mindset and incremental approach that dominates the world thinking today is the source of our multiple crises -- economic, financial and environmental. "We are currently in a genuine global emergency that requires a new way of thinking."
Gorbachev argued that a breakthrough was still possible, even if the summit did not yield the legally-binding treaty originally envisioned. The UN talks have foundered on discord between rich and developing nations over sharing the burden of slashing greenhouse-gas emissions and helping poor countries adapt to climate change.