Thursday, December 24, 2009

Obama admits failure at climate change conference

Well, at least we know they don't believe their own fantastic rhetoric. We're speaking, of course, of U.S. President Barack Obama's statement today that he understands why people view the just-concluded climate change summit in Copenhagen as a failure. "I think that people are justified in being disappointed about the outcome in Copenhagen," Obama said in an interview with PBS Newshour, according to the Reuters international news service. The conference ended with a nonbinding agreement to limit carbon emissions blamed for global warming, far short of a 50 percent reduction that was the stated goal of industrialized nations at the summit. But Obama, who was instrumental in overcoming sharp differences with China and India just to arrive at a nonbinding deal, said the fact that any agreement was reached at all was an important step. "Rather than see a complete collapse in Copenhagen, in whcih nothing at all got done and would have been a huge backward step, at least we kind of held ground and there wasn't too much backsliding from where we were," Obama said. "We were able to at least agree on non-legally binding targets for all countries -- not just the United States, not just Europe, but also for China and India, which, projecting forward, are going to be the world's largest emitters." Developing economic powers China, India, Brazil and South Africa, which were resistant to any deal that could limit their growth, signed on to the agreement at the last minute after Obama's personal intervention. "At a point where there was about to be complete breakdown, and the prime minister of India was heading to the airport and the Chinese representatives were essentially skipping negotiations, and everybody's screaming, what did happen was, cooler heads prevailed," Obama said. But many European participants had far less positive evaluations of the final agreement, however. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called the deal "flawed and chaotic" and Sweden called it a disaster for the environment, Reuters said. British Environment Minister Ed Miliband told the Guardian newspaper on Monday that China had "hijacked" emission-reduction efforts, but Beijing accused England of trying to drive a wedge between developing nations to force them into an unfavorable agreement, Reuters said.

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