‘Lukewarm’ climate change deal in Copenhagen
Times Online (Link) - Simon Alford (December 19, 2009)
The UN climate conference in Copenhagen today approved a deal to tackle global warming proposed by world leaders, after an accord Barack Obama brokered with China, India, Brazil and South Africa.
But the UN Secretary General today admitted the non-binding agreement at the conclusion of the conference was not �everything everyone had hoped for,� as he confirmed a deal had finally been done.
Delegates have agreed to �take note� of the American-led Copenhagen Accord, despite criticism that there are no long-term targets to cut emissions and it is not a legally-binding treaty.
Obama had brokered the agreement with China, India, Brazil and South Africa to tackle global warming, which included a reference to keeping the global temperature rise to just 2C - but the plan does not specify greenhouse gas cuts needed to achieve the 2C goal.
Prime minister Gordon Brown said the Accord was a �necessary first step� but those in opposition to it described it as �weak� and �meaningless.�
The document setting out the deal will specify a list of countries which agreed with it, as some of the 192 nations which have taken part in the talks are understood not to have accepted it.
In stormy overnight talks Sudan, Nicaragua, Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia all denounced the plan after about 120 world leaders left following a summit yesterday.
Sudan�s delegate, Lumumba Di-Aping, said the accord would condemn Africa to many deaths from global warming and compared it with the Holocaust.
But this morning UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said: �We have a deal� and described the agreement as an �important beginning� in the fight against climate change. It will allow a provision for $30 billion of climate aid for poorer countries over the next three years to become operational. There will also be a further $100 billion a year from 2020.
Mr Ban said: �The Copenhagen Accord may not be everything everyone had hoped for, but this decision...is an important beginning.�
Under the accord, countries will be able to set out their pledges for the action they plan to take to tackle climate change, in an appendix to the document, and will provide information to other nations on their progress.
UK Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband, who spent the night in talks after Gordon Brown had left the conference, said the failure to secure a stronger agreement showed the difficulty world leaders faced in tackling climate change.
�I think we would have wanted a more comprehensive agreement, a legally binding one,� he said.
�I think it is good that we have made a start in terms of emissions cuts people are going to do and, crucially, in terms of finance, but that does rely on getting the agreement.
�I wanted a stronger agreement. Today�s events show the difficulty we face. We are dealing with incredibly complex issues and trying to get 192 countries signed up is not an easy task.�
Further talks are expected at conferences in Germany and Mexico next year and Mr Obama admitted there was �much further to go.�
After leaving the conference, Gordon Brown said he viewed the agreement as a preliminary move: �This is the first step we are taking towards a green and low carbon future for the world, steps we are taking together. First steps are difficult, but they are also necessary.�
Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, echoed Mr Brown's comments adding: �This accord is better than no accord. This is a positive step but it�s clearly below our ambitions.�
The agreement, which follows two weeks of high-level debate, has been roundly criticised by environment campaigners and charities.
Jonathon Porritt, the former chairman of the Government�s Sustainable Development Commission, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: �To call it �a start� is trying to put a very brave face on things.
�What we have actually seen over the last two weeks is raw industrial power at its worst, both on the part of China and the US and other countries. They have not given an inch in terms of understanding the needs of some of the poorer countries.�
Friends of the Earth executive director Andy Atkins said: �A 2C rise in temperature would still mean the deaths of millions of people and the complete destruction of at least four low-lying island states and asking countries to list their national actions on climate change is absolutely no substitute for a legally binding international agreement.�
Greenpeace campaigner Joss Garman added: �This latest draft is so weak as to be meaningless. It�s more like a G8 communiqu� than the legally binding agreement we need.
�It doesn�t even include a timeline to give it legal standing or an explicit temperature target. It�s hard to imagine our leaders will try to present this document to the world and keep a straight face.�