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Earth

'Unprecedented' deal clinched at climate talks

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2009-12-19

After a long day of intense negotiations with leaders of key developing nations, US President Barack Obama announced a "meaningful and unprecedented" climate change deal. But he acknowledged the deal was limited and not legally binding.

AFP - US President Barack Obama on Friday announced a climate deal with other major world leaders calling it "unprecedented" but still not enough to beat global warming.

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More than four hours after the scheduled close of the summit and an exhaustive round of diplomacy between the world's most powerful leaders, Obama said an agreement had been reached but acknowledged it was limited and would not be legally binding.

The pact includes an agreement to put off until next month a decision on targets for reducing carbon emissions by 2020, a European diplomat said.

And unlike earlier drafts, the new accord did not specify any year for emissions to peak.

A US source said the agreement had a commitment from wealthy and key developing nations to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius.

The United States will contribute 3.6 billion dollars in climate funds for poorer nations in the 2010-2012 period, according to a draft text seen by AFP.

Japan would contribute 11 billion dollars over the three-year period and the European Union 10.6 billion, it said.

The deal was hammered out in talks between Obama and the leaders of China, India, Brazil and South Africa as well as key European countries, diplomats said.

A binding deal will be "very hard" and take time, Obama told reporters, adding that progress in Copenhagen climate summit was "not enough".

French President Nicolas Sarkozy had earlier said the talks were making progress after he met Obama with EU leaders including British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The draft text said countries would provide "national communications" on how they were tackling global warming, through "international consultations and analysis under clearly defined guidelines."

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China had bristled at anything called "verification" of its plan to cut the intensity of its carbon emissions, seeing it as an infringement of sovereignty and saying that rich nations bore primary responsibility for global warming.

Disagreements between the United States and China had been at the core of the divisions holding up a deal.

But even if Washington and Beijing have now come to an understanding, the deal will still have to get the approval of the 194 UN members in attendance in Copenhagen.

There was no immediate word on Russia's stance. President Dmitry Medevedev was one of the first to leave Copenhagen, having voiced frustration at the negotiation process overseen by the Danish government.

The emergence of a deal came at the end of a day in which several drafts agreements were knocked back, with leaders themselves taking over the task of redrafting the exact wording of three pages of text.

Different versions of the document showed the leaders particularly split over whether to fix a firm date for finalising a legally binding treaty in 2010, and a commitment to slashing global carbon emissions in half by 2050.

Scientists say failure to curb the rise in Earth's temperature will lead to worsening drought, floods, storms and rising sea levels.

Obama, whose presence was intended to provide the momentum to propel the deal over the finishing line, had earlier pleaded for unity while acknowledging any agreement would be less than perfect.

The haggling capped two years of deadlock over crafting a new UN treaty from 2013 that would reduce global warming from mortal threat to manageable peril.

The commitment to limit the rise in Earth's temperature to no more than 2.0 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) falls way short of the demands of threatened island nations who, with their very existence threatened by rising seas, have called for a cap of 1.5 C (2.7 Fahrenheit).

"Whatever the outcome, it looks bad for us," said a member of the Maldives delegation, an archipelago which fears being swallowed up by the Indian Ocean in a matter of decades.

 

Date created : 2009-12-18

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