Page last updated at 17:04 GMT, Friday, 18 December 2009

President Obama warns leaders over climate summit deal

Obama: 'The time for talk is over'

US President Barack Obama has warned world leaders that time is running out to strike a deal at the UN climate summit in Copenhagen.

President Obama told delegates that the international community's ability to take collective action was in doubt.

But neither the US, the EU or China offered anything new as fears grew that a deal may be slipping away.

There was confusion among delegates as several draft negotiating texts circulated on Friday afternoon.

A draft political agreement drawn up by a small group of countries was rejected during overnight discussions.

The EU did not raise its offer on cutting emissions from 20% to 30%, as some observers had anticipated.

The bloc decided last year that it would adopt the higher target if there was a comprehensive global agreement on climate change here.

Many observers had expected - and hoped - that the EU would raise its targets for cutting emissions from 20% to 30% by 2020 (from 1990 levels).

President Obama said it was time to act. And if we are to act, then I have to ask you - starting from now, please fulfil the Kyoto Protocol
Evo Morales, President of Bolivia

BBC environment correspondent Richard Black said this was a clear indication that things are not proceeding towards the kind of deal that the EU had wanted.

Addressing the summit on Friday, President Obama said: "While the science of climate change is not in doubt, I think our ability to take collective action is in doubt right now, and it hangs in the balance."

He said he had come to Copenhagen "not to talk, but to act".

Unchecked, he said, climate change would pose "unacceptable risks" to international security, the world economy and the planet.

Responding to the speech, Bolivia's President Evo Morales commented: "President Obama said it was time to act. And if we are to act, then I have to ask you - starting from now, please fulfil the Kyoto Protocol."

"This is a shambles," said Antonio Hill of Oxfam, who has been intimately involved in preparations for this conference.


  • No reference to legally binding agreement
  • Recognises the need to limit global temperatures rising no more than 2C above pre-industrial levels
  • Developed countries to "set a goal of mobilising jointly $100bn a year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries"
  • On transparency: Emerging nations monitor own efforts and report to UN every two years. Some international checks
  • No detailed framework on carbon markets - "various approaches" will be pursued
Updated: 13:47 GMT, 19 December

"Stitching it all back together is going to require a huge effort, whenever that is."

China's Premier Wen Jiabao told delegates: "To meet the climate change challenge, the international community must strengthen confidence, build consensus, make vigorous efforts and enhance co-operation."

He added that in addressing climate change, the international community must not "turn a blind eye to historical responsibilities, per capita emissions and different levels of development".

President Obama has been meeting throughout the day with the Chinese Premier and leaders from Australia, the UK, France and Japan. Developing countries were also present at the informal talks.

Correspondents say it is the US and China - the world's two largest carbon emitters - that hold the key to striking an agreement. China has been criticised during the summit for not offering stronger carbon emissions targets and for resisting international monitoring of its emissions controls.

The US has received criticism for making its climate aid offer so late in the talks.

China's 'special difficulty' on climate

On Thursday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the US was prepared to help establish funding of $100bn a year for developing countries if a deal emerged that met US requirements.

The key US demand is "transparency" from China, seen as a must if the US Senate is to pass legislation controlling emissions.

As well as the leaders' session, talks are scheduled on texts that sources say remain full of fundamental divisions.

One developing country negotiator told BBC News that the rejected draft political accord had arrived "as if from God".

"It is very confusing, and developing countries are very disappointed because they've invested a lot of time in the documents they're negotiating here," said Martin Khor, executive director of the South Centre, a Geneva-based think-tank.

Delegates from 193 nations are in Copenhagen to negotiate an agreement on curbing greenhouse gas emissions, in order to prevent dangerous climate change
Developing nations want rich nations to cut emissions by at least 25% by 2020 - rich nations are reluctant to go so far
The US insists China curbs its emissions, and allows international verification
Poor nations want climate aid to come largely from public finances, while the West favours schemes like carbon trading

"People feel their time has been wasted," he told BBC News.

Of the sticking points over the draft agreement, one appears to have been the absence of a commitment to a legally binding treaty, which many developing countries have been insisting on.

Finance has emerged as an issue more likely to make or break a deal than emissions pledges.

Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva received rousing applause for his speech. He told delegates: "We, the developing countries... when we think in money, we should not think that someone is paying us a favour.

"We should not think that someone is giving something that we are begging for, because the money that would be put on the table is the payment for greenhouse emissions released over two centuries by those countries that industrialised themselves first."


President Lula added: "I would love to leave Copenhagen with the most perfect document in the world... I'm not sure if some angel or wise man will come down to this plenary and put in our minds the intelligence that we lacked up until now. I don't know if that's going to be possible."

Earlier, Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called for all states, both developed and developing, to be flexible about verification.

He indicated the possibility of setting up an international mechanism for monitoring emission cuts.

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