Obama reaches climate deal with emerging powers

COPENHAGEN Fri Dec 18, 2009 6:48pm EST

1 of 20. President Barack Obama waves on arrival at the congress center during the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009 in Copenhagen December 18, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Christian Charisius

Related Video

Related Topics

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - President Barack Obama reached agreement with major developing powers on a climate deal on Friday, a U.S. official said, but he said the accord was only a first step and was insufficient to fight climate change.

The official said Obama, China's Premier Wen Jiabao, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and South Africa's President Jacob Zuma had reached a "meaningful agreement," after a day of deep divisions between leaders of rich and developing nations.

Brazil also approved the deal that appeared to bypass other participants at UN-led climate talks in Copenhagen. The accord did not have guaranteed approval from all 193 nations. Noticeably, EU nations were absent from the meeting.

Tensions between China and the United States, the world's two biggest emitters, had been particularly acute after Obama -- in a message directed at the Chinese -- said any deal to cut emissions would be "empty words on a page" unless it was transparent and accountable.

Negotiators struggled all day to find a compromise acceptable to all 193 countries which could avert the threat of dangerous climate change, including floods, droughts, rising sea levels and species extinctions.

A draft text under discussion on Friday included $100 billion in climate aid annually by 2020 for poor countries to combat climate change, and targets to limit warming and halve global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

But it abandoned earlier ambitions for any deal in Copenhagen to be turned into a legally binding treaty next year.

"Today, following a multilateral meeting between President Obama, Premier Wen, Prime Minister Singh, and President Zuma a meaningful agreement was reached," the U.S. official said.

"It is not sufficient to combat the threat of climate change but it is an important first step."

"No country is entirely satisfied with each element but this is a meaningful and historic step forward and a foundation from which to make further progress," the official added.

Under the five-nation agreement, rich and poor nations had agreed to a "finance mechanism," emissions cuts to curb global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, and "to provide information on the implementation of their actions."

Earlier, Indian environment minister Jairam Ramesh told Reuters December 7-18 meeting was "close to seeing a legally non-binding Copenhagen outcome after 36 hours of grueling, intensive negotiations."

The European Union had pressed for a strong deal to limit global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius and which included tough carbon curbs from other industrialized nations such as the United States.

Scientists say a 2 degrees limit is the minimum to avoid some of the worst impacts of climate change including several meters sea level rise, species extinctions and crop failures.

"Given where we started and the expectations for this conference, anything less than a legally binding and agreed outcome falls far short of the mark," said John Ashe, chair the Kyoto talks under the United Nations.

(With reporting by Alister Doyle, Gerard Wynn, Anna Ringstrom, John Acher, Anna Ringstrom, Richard Cowan, David Fogarty, Pete Harrison and Emma Graham-Harrison; Writing by Dominic Evans; editing by Janet McBride)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (2)
HBC wrote:
There’s so much inherently wrong with the Copenhagen Treaty, it takes far more patient people than myself to explain. Here are some of them:



And for those “leaders” trying to buy Africa’s assent with convoluted “aid” offers whose gross value (which Africa will never see) clocks far below what America alone wastes on war in Iraq every few months – just go home now. Your phony concern fools no-one.

Dec 18, 2009 1:24am EST  --  Report as abuse
Louiejay wrote:
Maybe you can help me out. I have been searching for at least one example of at least one scientist that has made a climate prediction accurately. Of course when we speak weather we are usually talking about the state of the atmosphere at one particular time or day. When we refer to climate usually we are referring to the weather over a longer period of time in this case it would be several years. My point is (and I am not on either side of the global warming debate) we are basing policy on science and science is facts. Note: People arguing on the side of global warming state very few or no facts in the media I have been reading. Like I said maybe you can help me out. I am going to give you one more fact: Pro global warming scientist write articles that sound like politics and lack information that I would expect from any scientist paid on federal grants. If you have time could you find me a pro global warming scientist that has wrote an article that states facts and not just his conclusions of his studies. Thank you ahead of time.

Dec 18, 2009 3:53am EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.


California's historic drought

With reservoirs at record lows, California is in the midst of the worst drought in decades.  Slideshow