Friday, December 18, 2009

Copenhagen climate deal turns out to be less than expected

Maybe this really was the best that could be achieved, and the agreement concluded the Copenhagen climate summit really is "meaningful and unprecedented," as U.S. President Barack Obama said Friday. "For the first time in history, all major economies have come together to accept their responsibility to take action to confront the threat of climate change," Obama told reporters, according to Cable News Network (CNN). And for what it's worth, that's doubtlessly true. But for people who were hoping world leaders would begin to take seriously the threat posed by a warming climate that is causing earth's glaciers to melt, Friday's agreement did not anywhere near far enough. Environmentalists want nations to agree to a binding agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which most scientists blame for the higher temperatures. Comparisons over the centuries are not possible because accurate records were not kept before the 1800s. Obama said the countries had agreed to keep emissions at a level that would allow temperatures to rise less than two percent annually, a goal that would slow but not stop the warming. This is going to be the first time in which (many countries voluntarily) offered up mitigation targets," Obama said. "I think that it was important to essentially get that shift in orientation moving." Reuters said. Obama reportedly worked closely with China and India, the world's largest developing economies that have objected to emissions limits that could impede their progress, to get them to go along with the new agreement, Reuters said. The deal requires nations to put their emissions-reduction commitments into writing for consultation purposes, after which they could become binding commitments, Reuters said.

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