Daily Archives: December 18, 2009

Kate Mackenzie

10:30 P.M. CET

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. Read more

Kate Mackenzie

From Andrew Ward:

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. Read more

Fiona Harvey

Comments by President Obama at Copenhagen support both the earlier statement from the US camp and the more cautious view expressed by Brazi’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. Read more

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”. He added:

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

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. Read more

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. Read more

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.” Read more

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. Read more