Copenhagen climate deal: Europe falls into line

At 2am, about four hours after the US first called the Copenhagen climate deal done, the European Union has finally fallen into line, albeit with visible reluctance. The EU has signed up to the ‘Copenhagen Accord’, while complaining about most of its details.

Gordon Brown has been taking a similar tack, describing the accord as a “first step”, pleading understanding of the difficulties inherent in reaching agreement among 192 countries, and raising the prospect of strengthening the agreement next year.

As weary observers dozed in the front row of the press centre, Fredrik Reinfeldt, prime minister of Sweden which holds the rotating EU presidency, and Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission complained about the weakness of the deal.

Reinfeldt could also not resist a dig at US president Barack Obama.

Mr Barroso said he thought the accord had some good aspects, but he seemed somewhat stretched to say what they were. His main point was: “This accord was better than no accord”.

He approved of the aspiration to limit the rise in global temperatures to no more than 2°C, but was forced to admit that the emissions curbs agreed at Copenhagen – all the same ones that countries turned up with – would not put the world on a track to stay inside that limit.

Reinfeldt admitted: “It is not delivering on the 2°C limit: it needs more to be done.”

The blame for the disappointment expressed by both Barroso and Reinfeldt was pointed in only one direction: at the US. Barroso said.

“They are not in the range where the EU, Japan and other countries are, with regard to mitigation [emissions cuts],”

Renfeldt observed tartly that he and Barroso had at least stayed in the meeting of about 30 leaders that agreed the accord until it was over; unlike Obama, who raced from the conference centre and was on the aeroplane not long after 11pm.

“The level of ambition honestly is not what we had been hoping for,” Barroso said.

“In ambition we were always leading. But in fact we were not leading when it came to the point of lowering ambition. Others were much more influential than we were when it was the business of reducing ambition.”

He concluded:

Copenhagen was a first step, but we need many more steps in the future

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