Sierra Club: “A historic–if incomplete–agreement to begin tackling global warming.”
President Obama Friday announced that he had agreed to a “first step” global warming deal with China, India, Brazil and South Africa at the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen–an accord long on promise and short on accomplishment….
Mr. Obama called the agreement “meaningful and unprecedented,” because it included promises by China and other major developing nations to slow the growth of their greenhouse gas emissions. “What we’ve achieved in Copenhagen will not be the end, but the beginning, the beginning of a new era of international action,” he said.
That’s the first take of the conservative daily Washington Times in their useful daily Washington Insight/Energy (sub. req’d).
In his DotEarth post, “A ‘First Step’ Climate Deal,” Revkin writes, “Here is a link to the ‘Copenhagen Accord‘ as it stands in the middle of the night here.” The Washington Post has a long story just up, “World leaders reach deal on climate change in Copenhagen.”
Here’s the other side of the spectrum from WashTimes — Carl Pope, Sierra Club Executive Director:
“The world’s nations have come together and concluded a historic–if incomplete–agreement to begin tackling global warming. Tonight’s announcement is but a first step and much work remains to be done in the days and months ahead in order to seal a final international climate deal that is fair, binding, and ambitious. It is imperative that negotiations resume as soon as possible.
“President Obama and the rest of the world paid a steep price here in Copenhagen because of obstructionism in the United States Senate. That a deal was reached at all is testament to President Obama’s leadership–all the more remarkable because of the very weak hand he was dealt because of the Senate’s failure to pass domestic clean energy and climate legislation. Now that the rest of the world–including countries like China and India–has made clear that it is willing to take action, the Senate must pass domestic legislation as soon as possible. America and the world can no longer be held hostage to petty politics and obstructionism.
“What was clear over the past two weeks is that there is no argument over the science of global warming or the urgency with which we must act. A parade of developed and developing counties alike made crystal clear that they would implement their national plans to tackle global warming and building the clean energy economy not because they were required to do so, but because it was simply in their own national interest to do so.
“The agreement reached here has all the ingredients necessary to construct a final treaty–a mitigation target of 2 degrees Celsius, nationally appropriate action plans, a mechanism for international climate finance, and transparency with regard to national commitments. President Obama has made much progress in past 11 months and it now appears that the U.S.–and the world–is ready to do the hard work necessary to finish what was started here in Copenhagen.
“A chilly two weeks in Copenhagen has given humanity its best chance of preventing the ravages of a warming world. Today’s deal is neither perfect nor complete, but we must not this chance slip away.”
Here’s more from the WashTimes:
The accord was expected to be considered by the full 193-nation conference either late Friday or Saturday. Mr. Obama said he expected the conference to embrace the agreement.
The agreement came after talks late in the evening Friday in the snowy Danish capital with the leaders of China, India, South Africa, Brazil and Ethiopia, which with other developing countries had pressed industrial nations to do more to cut their own greenhouse gas emissions and send billions of dollars in climate aid to poor nations.
Mr. Obama personally dashed between meetings throughout the day, including two with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. He left Copenhagen for Washington before the deal could be presented to the 193-nation conference because of the snow storm forecast to hit the U.S. East Coast Friday night.
Mr. Obama and Mr. Wen, considered the key architects of any final agreement, began the day without making any new commitments in speeches to the conference.
“We are ready to get this done today but there has to be movement on all sides to recognize that is better for us to act rather than talk,” Obama later told reporters, insisting on a transparent way to monitor each nation’s pledges to cut emissions.
Wen told delegates that China’s voluntary targets of reducing its carbon intensity by 40 to 45 percent will require “tremendous efforts.” The target refers to China’s rate of emissions per unit of economic growth.
“We will honor our word with real action,” Wen said.
For a time, the summit appeared to be on the verge of failing to meet already-modest goals for a purely rhetorical agreement because of impasses between rich and poor countries over greenhouse gas emissions cuts and verification methods.
Draft agreements circulated among negotiators dropped a 2010 deadline for completion of a binding treaty and also omitted a global greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 50 percent by 2050, as had been urged by climate scientists.
In the end, a non-binding agreement along with a promise to try to firm things up later was the best the negotiators could do.
“You might compare it to a ‘standstill agreement’ in trade negotiations,” in which all sides agree to abide by the commitments made to date,” said Melinda Cooke, a vice president at the UN Foundation.
Elliot Diringer, a vice president at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, called the agreement “an important step forward,” but cautioned that a binding treaty in a year, as some had hoped would happen, now appears to be a huge challenge.
I’ll have Andrew Light’s take soon, but I’ve got to go to sleep. I have a busy day of non-traveling to DC Saturday!