Climate deal falls short

continued from page 1

Question of the Day

Should Congress make English the official language of the U.S.?

View results

We will honor our word with real action, Wen said.

For a time, the summit appeared to be on the verge of failing to meet already-modest goals for a purely rhetorical agreement because of impasses between rich and poor countries over greenhouse gas emissions cuts and verification methods.

Draft agreements circulated among negotiators dropped a 2010 deadline for completion of a binding treaty and also omitted a global greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 50 percent by 2050, as had been urged by climate scientists.

In the end, a non-binding agreement along with a promise to try to firm things up later was the best the negotiators could do.

“You might compare it to a ‘standstill agreement’ in trade negotiations,” in which all sides agree to abide by the commitments made to date, said Melinda Cooke, a vice president at the UN Foundation.

Elliot Diringer, a vice president at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, called the agreement “an important step forward,” but cautioned that a binding treaty in a year, as some had hoped would happen, now appears to be a huge challenge.

It was unclear whether the agreement would include a plan by the U.S. and other wealthy nations to begin sending $30 billion in adaptation and forest preservation aid to poorer developing countries. The total could increase to $100 billion a year by 2020 under proposals by the U.S. and others, but the disposition of that suggestion remained unresolved.

Also unknown was the future of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol’s limits on emissions by industrial nations, which expire in three years. The United States did not sign that treaty.

Mr. Obama told global leaders during his speech Friday that he came to the climate change negotiations in Copenhagen “not to talk, but to act.” He also voiced frustration over the fact that the summit netted little progress in the days before he and other world leaders arrived.

“After months of talk, and two weeks of negotiations, after innumerable side meetings, bilateral meetings, endless hours of discussion among negotiators, I believe that the pieces of that accord should now be clear,” he said.

He also took a jab at China, which pledged to cut its “carbon intensity,” which refers to emissions for a given amount of economic activity, but refused to accept a binding verification system.

“I don’t know how you have an international agreement where we all are not sharing information and assuring that we are meeting our commitments. That doesnt make sense. It would be a hollow victory,” Mr. Obama said.

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
TWT Video Picks