Saturday, December 19, 2009
World powers seal “meaningful” deal on climate
by Carmelo Amalfi
COULD it be true?
Has Nobel Prize winning president Barack Obama helped seal a deal in Copenhagen?
According to a senior United States administration official, China, India and South Africa have reached a “meaningful agreement” on the last night of the COP15.
Described as a “first step”, he is quoted saying it was not enough to put a meaningful dent in the climate threat. But it was a start.
Details of the tentative deal are sketchy. It was reached Friday night at the United Nations climate conference after a meeting between Obama, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and South African President Jacob Zuma.
Obama had earlier said he did not come to talk, but to act as the world’s biggest economy and second biggest emitter of greenhouse gases.
Under the "Copenhagen Accord", leaders have committed to the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
It sets a global temperature rise maximum of two degrees Celsius, possibly limiting this to 1.5C after a review in 2016.
The Copenhagen Accord says developed countries would commit collectively to providing 30 billion US dollars in additional funding for developing countries for the 2010 to 2012 period. By 2020, developed countries aimed to raise 100 billion dollars a year.
By 2050, developed countries also would commit to emissions cuts of at least 80 per cent.
But countries including Venezuela, Sudan and Tuvalu are said to oppose the new deal that would need unanimous backing to be adopted by the 193 nations at COP15.
Other nations including European Union states, Japan, the African Union and Alliance of Small Island States urged delegates to adopt the plan.
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd described the deal as, "a significant agreement on climate change action. It is the first global agreement on climate change action between rich nations and poor countries".
President Obama had promised the US would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020, “no matter what happens in Copenhagen”.
Nations have until the end of January 2010 to submit plans for curbs on emissions to the UN.
Environment groups criticised the hurried plan as ineffective because it was not a legally binding treaty.
"The city of Copenhagen is a crime scene tonight, with the guilty men and women fleeing to the airport," Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven said.
The comments follow nearly two weeks of bitter debate and walkouts by delegates and running battles between Danish police and protestors.