Page last updated at 09:35 GMT, Saturday, 19 December 2009

Copenhagen summit battles to save climate deal

President Barack Obama: "We know this progress alone is not enough"

Delegates at the climate summit are battling to prevent the talks ending without reaching a final deal.

Earlier, a US-led group of five nations - including China - tabled a last-minute proposal that President Barack Obama called a "meaningful agreement".

However, it was rejected by a few developing nations who felt it failed to deliver the actions needed to halt dangerous climate change.

But the majority of nations are urging the Danish hosts to adopt the deal.

To be accepted as an official UN agreement, the deal needs to be endorsed by all 193 nations at the talks.


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On Friday evening, the US, China, India, Brazil and South Africa reached a last-minute agreement on a number of issues, such as a recognition to limit temperature rises to less than 2C (3.6F).

However, BBC environment correspondent Richard Black says the language in the text shows 2C is not a formal target, just that the group "recognises the scientific view that" the temperature increase should be held below this figure.

'Devoid of morality'

Mr Obama said the deal would be a foundation for global action but admitted there was "much further to go".

However, a number of developing nations were angered by the draft proposals.

Lumumba Stanislaus Di-Aping, the Sudanese negotiator, said the draft text asked "Africa to sign a suicide pact".

Richard Black
Richard Black,
BBC News environment correspondent
While President Obama was on TV announcing he'd secured a new global climate deal, most other delegations here had not even seen it.

Initially he had the support of just four other countries - Brazil, China, India and South Africa. The EU came on board - albeit reluctantly - and so have most developing countries

But the way the deal was done and announced, and its weak provisions, seriously annoyed a number of countries - a "coup d'Etat against the UN".

With no firm target for limiting the global temperature rise, no commitment to a legal treaty and no target year for peaking emissions, countries vulnerable to climate impacts are pointing out this "deal" does not guarantee the temperature targets they need.

Saying it was "devoid of any sense of responsibility and morality", he added: "The promise of $100bn will not bribe us to destroy the continent."

The five-nation deal promised to deliver $30bn (£18.5bn) of aid for developing nations over the next three years, and outlined a goal of providing $100bn a year by 2020 to help poor countries cope with the impacts of climate change.

The agreement also included a method for verifying industrialised nations' reduction of emissions. The US had insisted that China dropped its resistance to this measure.

During the two-week gathering, small island nations and vulnerable coastal countries have been calling for a binding agreement that would limit emissions to a level that would prevent temperatures rising more than 1.5C (2.7F) above pre-industrial levels.

"Can I suggest that in biblical terms, it looks like we're being offered 30 pieces of silver to sell our future," Tuvalu's lead negotiator Ian Fry said during the main meeting. "Our future is not for sale."

Graphic of global warming projection (Image: BBC)

Mr Fry said his country could not accept the deal, as did Venezuelan delegate Claudia Salerno Caldera.

She said: "Mr President, I ask whether - under the eye of the UN secretary general - you are going to endorse this coup d'etat against the authority of the United Nations."

The main opposition to the deal now comes from the ALBA bloc of Latin American countries to which Nicaragua and Venezuela belong, along with Cuba, Ecuador and Bolivia.

The African Union appears to back the deal, along with most of the small island developing states.

"In my mind, this document is amicable," said President Mohammed Nasheed of the Maldives, who took part in the small group discussions from which the "deal" emerged.


  • 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

"Of course it is not what we were looking for, and I will be the first person to be unsatisfied; but this document allows us to continue negotiations and to have a procedure leading to a binding legal agreement within 2010. I urge all countries to back this, and do not let these talks collapse."

British PM Gordon Brown said the deal had almost universal backing: "Let's remember, a year ago nobody thought this sort of agreement was possible."

Delegates are still angrily debating the deal and there are doubts whether Danish PM Lars Loekke Rasmussen will be able to declare it approved.

But the majority of speakers addressing the conference have been urging the Danish hosts to adopt the proposed text, saying the US-led deal was better than no deal.

EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told reporters: "I will not hide my disappointment regarding the non-binding nature of the agreement here."

It is now evident that beating global warming will require a radically different model of politics than the one in Copenhagen
John Sauven, Greenpeace UK

"In that respect the document falls far short of our expectations."

However, he added that the EU would accept the US-led deal.

The two-week summit had been deadlocked as world leaders had struggled to hammer out a deal.

"The text we have is not perfect," said French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

But he added: "If we had no deal, that would mean that two countries as important as India and China would be freed from any type of contract.

"The United States, which is not in Kyoto, would be free of any type of contract. That's why a contract is absolutely vital."


A number of leaders have now left the Danish capital, including the US president and Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Reacting to the Copenhagen "deal", John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said: "The city of Copenhagen is a crime scene tonight, with the guilty men and women fleeing to the airport.

"There are no targets for carbon cuts and no agreement on a legally binding treaty," he observed.

"It is now evident that beating global warming will require a radically different model of politics than the one on display here in Copenhagen."

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