Daily Archives: December 18, 2009

Kate Mackenzie

THE PRESIDENT: Let me start with a statement and then I’ll take a couple of questions.

Today we’ve made meaningful and unprecedented — made a meaningful and unprecedented breakthrough here in Copenhagen. 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.

Let me first recount what our approach was throughout the year and coming into this conference. To begin with, we’ve reaffirmed America’s commitment to transform our energy economy at home. We’ve made historic investments in renewable energy that have already put people back to work. We’ve raised our fuel efficiency standards. And we have renewed American leadership in international climate negotiations.

Kate Mackenzie

Although the US and the BASIC states have reached (non-binding) agreement and Obama has departed Copenhagen, The EU says another round of talks has begun and the deal is not finalised.

Andrew Ward reports:

The European Union insisted a deal had not yet been finalised and said talks were continuing. An EU press conference, at which leaders were expected to announce a deal, was postponed as officials said another round of negotiations had been opened and important details were still to be resolved. “They still haven’t finalised the deal,” said Roberta Alenius, spokesperson for Swedish EU presidency. “If there was a deal the prime minister [of Sweden] and the [commission] president would have been here.”

Read more on the FT.com splash, and get quick updates are on our Twitter feed

Fiona Harvey

Update: President Obama has boarded Air Force One and is heading home after making comments that support both the earlier statement from the US camp and the more cautious view expressed by Brazil’s chief negotiator:

Fiona Harvey reports:

President Obama said the commitments were not enough, but countries would have to build on the progress they had made at Copenhagen: “What we have achieved in Copenhagen will not be the end but the beginning of a new era of international action.”

Countries, he said, had made “a meaningful and unprecedented breakthrough – for the first time in history, all the major economies have come together to take action” on climate change.

He said the agreement contained commitments on mitigation, financing and transparency.

He said turning the agreement into a legally binding form would be “hard” but that he supported a binding treaty. Countries had to get into a position “where everyone realises that they have to move forward together. This is going to be hard – it’s hard within countries, and it’s going to be even harder between countries.”

EU representatives are making a statement now.

Related links:

‘Meaningful’ Copenhagen agreement reached, says US official: Full text
Copenhagen deal done? Brazil takes more cautious tone: This is not final

Kate Mackenzie

A US official says a ‘meaningful agreement’ was reached between the US and the major developing countries, but Sergio Serra, Brazil’s special ambassador for climate change issues, described the result of the talks as “disppointing” and there is more to be done. He said:

“There is a big job ahead to avoid climate change through emissions reduction targets, and that was not done here.

“We hope [the decisions reached] will bring about a result which, if not what we expected from this meeting, may still be a way of salvaging something and paving the way to another meeting next year – or a series of meetings, it hasn’t been decided yet – to get a full result of this process.”

Related links:

‘Meaningful’ agreement reached, says US official: Full text

Kate Mackenzie

“It’s not sufficient to combat the threat of change, but it’s an important first step.”

The following comments are from a US official, via our environment correspondent Fiona Harvey in Copenhagen. President Obama is expected to make a statement shortly. Update: the EU is also about to make a statement.

The US official’s statement follows:

Today, following a multilateral meeting between President Obama, Premier Wen, Prime Minister Singh, and President Zuma a meaningful agreement was reached. It’s not sufficient to combat the threat of climate change but it’s an important first step.

We entered this negotiation at a time when there were significant differences between countries. Developed and developing countries have now agreed to listing their national actions and commitments, a finance mechanism, to set a mitigation target of two degrees celsius and to provide information on the implementation of their actions through national communicatios, with provisions for international consultations and analysis under clearly defined guidelines.

No country is entirely satisfied with each element but this is a meaningful and historic step forward and a foundation from which to make further progress.

We thank the emerging economies for their voluntary actions and especially appreciate the work and leadership of the europeans in this effort.

Note that the crucial matters of emissions commitments, financing mechanism, the 2 degree target and international monitoring are all mentioned.

Update 2: Brazil puts it another way, stressing this is only paving the way for a true agreement. Ed Crooks reports that Brazilian officials are saying the BASIC countries (Brazil, China, India, South Africa) met with Obama and ‘several important decisions were made’:

Which we hope will bring about a result which, if not what we expected from this meeting, may still be a way of salvaging something and paving the way to another meeting next year – or a series of meetings, it hasn’t been decided yet – to get a full result of this process.

FT Energy Source

FT Energy Source is posting a daily question for our panel of expert commentators. Below are replies from Kyoto carbon markets architect Graciela Chichilnisky, Jeremy Leggett of Solarcentury, Julian Morris of the International Policy Network and Robert Stavins of Harvard University.

Who is responsible for today’s summit in Copenhagen being as chaotic and uncertain as it is?

Graciela Chichilnisky: The chaos in Copenhagen had three contributing causes that amplified what is always a difficult process – the process of reaching an agreement among almost 200 nations on a crucial issue.

The first cause is that the US was out of the process for the eight years of the Bush administration. The US is the main emittor (together with China) and did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol. This meeting was partly about bringing the US into the fold – a challenging task at best.

FT Energy Source

Many draft agreements have been circulating around the Copenhagen climate change conference. This is a leaked copy of the latest, most credible, version:

FT Energy Source

By Andrew Ward, Scandinavian correspondent

Tweeting Brown

It was not always easy for journalists to work out what was happening inside the closed-door negotiations this week. So thank goodness for the British delegation, which issued a running commentary on Twitter.

A 1am tweet attributed to prime minister Gordon Brown declared: “Late night haggling with 30 leaders. Tough, but we’re determined to crack it.”

Earlier, the PM reported on his “crucial meeting with Premier Wen Jiabao of China, and then five minutes for steak”. He even found time to send a message while getting dressed in the morning: “If only it was as easy to fix climate change as to choose a tie.”

Ed Crooks

President Obama’s speech to world leaders in Copenhagen (full text below) had a simple message: get a deal done. You may not like everything about it, but it is better than nothing, and we can always make it better later.

With the Copenhagen climate talks in a critical state, that is surely the right message, and probably the only thing he could say.

The key line, it seems to me, is this one:

We can do that [agree a deal], and everyone who is in this room will be a part of an historic endeavor – one that makes life better for our children and grandchildren.

No-one wants to be on the wrong side of history.

But the speech does also seem to confirm another suspicon: that leaders will come away from Copenhagen with a deal, but it may not be one that does the job they were sent here to do.

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