Climate Deal Announced, but Falls Short of Expectations
COPENHAGEN — Leaders here concluded a climate change deal on Friday that the Obama administration called “meaningful” but that falls short of even the modest expectations for the summit meeting here.
The agreement still needs to be approved by the 193 nations gathered here.
The accord addresses many of the issues that leaders came here to settle — and if signed, will represent an unprecedented effort by the nations of the world to take concerted steps to address global warming.
But the agreement appeared to leave many of the participants unhappy.
Even an Obama administration official conceded, “It is not sufficient to combat the threat of climate change, but it’s an important first step.”
“No country is entirely satisfied with each element,” the administration’s statement said, “but this is a meaningful and historic step forward and a foundation from which to make further progress.”
The statement added, “We thank the emerging economies for their voluntary actions and especially appreciate the work and leadership of the Europeans in this effort.”
But many of those emerging economies are likely to express displeasure. Europeans said the deal does not require enough of the United States, China and other major emitters and could put European industries at a competitive disadvantage because the European Union is already subject to a carbon emissions constraint program.
The accord drops the expected goal of concluding a binding international treaty by the end of 2010, which leaves the implementation of its provisions uncertain. It is likely to undergo many months, perhaps years, of additional negotiation before it emerges in any internationally enforceable form.
“We entered this negotiation at a time when there were significant differences between countries,” the American official said.
“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 communications, with provisions for international consultations and analysis under clearly defined guidelines,” the official said.
The deal came after a dramatic moment in which Mr. Obama burst into a meeting of the Chinese, Indian and Brazilian leaders, according to senior administration officials. Chinese protocol officers protested, and Mr. Obama said he did not want them negotiating in secret.
The intrusion led to new talks that cemented key terms of the deal, American officials said.
Sergio Serra, Brazil’s senior climate negotiator here, confirmed that Mr. Obama had “joined” a meeting of Brazilian, Indian, Chinese and other officials, although he did not say that Mr. Obama walked in uninvited.
“After several discussions had taken place they were joined by President Barack Obama,” Mr. Serra said. “Several important decisions were taken — not a few due to Brazilian mediation — that we hope will bring a result, if not what we expected, that may be a way of salvaging something and pave the way to another meeting or series of meetings to get the full result of this proceeding.”
President Obama announced that an agreement had been reached but he left Copenhagen before the assembled 193 nations could study or vote on the accord. Aides said he left to get to Washington ahead of a major snowstorm headed toward the capital.
The agreement apparently grew out of a document that was being edited by high-ranking officials from some two dozen countries throughout the day. But many specifics that were included in earlier versions were excised in the document left on the table when Mr. Obama made his announcement, and many parties considered it at best a work in progress.