Politics Summary: Friday, December 18th

The emissions cuts offered so far at the Copenhagen climate change summit would still lead to global temperatures rising by an average of 3C, according to a confidential UN analysis obtained by the Guardian. A rise of 3C would mean up to 170 million more people suffering severe coastal floods and 550 million more at risk of hunger. Greenpeace campaigner and Left Foot Forward contributer Joss Garman told the paper: “This is an explosive document that shows the numbers on the table at the moment would lead to nothing less than climate breakdown and an extraordinarily dangerous situation for humanity.” But the New York Times outlines that “President Obama arrives here on Friday morning bent on applying a combination of muscle and personal charm to secure a involving nearly 200 countries.” Hilary Clinton surprised delegates yesterday by backing Gordon Brown’s plan of a $100bn (£62bn) long-term fund to finance the move to a low carbon economy – a proposal backed by Europeans and the lead African negotiator Meles Zenawi. Australian PM Kevin Rudd praised Brown’s role in securing a global fund. Meanwhile, China is under intense diplomatic pressure from Mrs Clinton to accept “transparency”.

The Guardian and Telegraph report that the chairman of the Iraq inquiry, Sir John Chilcot, has defended the way he has conducted his hearings, saying he was not out to “ambush witnesses or score points”. Chilcot also said he would seek the publication in the new year of highly classified documents during questioning of former and serving ministers, most notably Tony Blair. But Shadow Justice Secretary, Dominic Grieve, tells the Times that the inquiry could be undermined by having no lawyers to question witnesses. The Independent says Blair faces “a damning picture painted by the Chilcot inquiry” and that he “looks in an increasingly uncomfortable position over the biggest blunder of his time in office.”

All the papers cover the news that 80 MPs are challenging the results of the expense claim review process conducted by Sir Thomas Legg. Sir Paul Kennedy, a former appeal court judge, will consider the appeals and report early next year. Eight MPs have confirmed in public that they are contesting the rulings, challenging demands ranging from £260 to £63,250. Meanwhile, the Telegraph discloses that Sion Simon, a Culture minister, received £40,000 in expenses on a “second home” owned by his sister.

The Telegraph reports that British Airways has won a High Court injunction blocking a 12-day Christmas walkout which threatened to disrupt the travel plans of more than a million people. The Guardian reveals that “dismayed” British Airways cabin crew appeared to lack the appetite for a new strike ballot. Writing on a website, Duncan Holley, secretary of Bassa-the Unite branch that represents 12,700 cabin crew, blamed Unite for “losing the PR initiative”. But Unite said it would stage a second ballot if negotiations with BA failed to reach a solution.

The Times reports that investment banks “upset over the Government’s attacks on City bonuses” are holding up a £1 billion fund for small business. Gordon Brown announced plans at Labour’s conference for a National Investment Corporation to support small firms struggling to obtain lending from commercial banks. But spokesmen for HSBC and the Treasury dismissed the rumours; both said discussions were “constructive”.

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