Fri, Dec 25, 2009 - Page 7 News List

Discontent over Copenhagen talks ‘justified’: Obama

CHANGING PLANET The US president said although the climate deal might be disappointing, it was better than a complete collapse of the talks in Copenhagen


US President Barack Obama said disenchantment over the Copenhagen climate talks was “justified,” but defended the chaotic outcome as the top UN envoy urged an end to post-summit recriminations.

The climate change conference held in the Danish capital ended last week with a non-binding agreement that the EU has blasted as a Sino-US stitch-up that will do little to curtail global warming.

“I think that people are justified in being disappointed about the outcome in Copenhagen,” Obama told PBS television on Wednesday after the summit ended with only vague prescriptions to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

“The science says that we’ve got to significantly reduce emissions over the next 40 years. There’s nothing in the Copenhagen agreement that ensures that that happens,” he said.


However, Obama added: “What I said was essentially that rather than see a complete collapse in Copenhagen ... at least we kind of held ground and there wasn’t too much backsliding from where we were.”

Sweden, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, this week called the summit a “disaster” and declared both China and the US, the world’s two biggest polluters, responsible for the result.

Exposing the stark divide between rich and developing nations, Britain and China have traded verbal blows over who was to blame for the Copenhagen outcome.

Brazil has blasted Obama, while India has congratulated itself for emerging from the summit without any constraints on its booming growth.

In frenzied backroom haggling last Friday, leaders of some two dozen countries put together a “Copenhagen Accord” that strived to save the grueling 12-day UN marathon from collapse.

A total of US$30 billion was pledged from 2010-2012 to help poor countries in the firing line of climate change, and rich nations sketched a target of providing US$100 billion annually by 2020.

The deal set the aim of limiting warming to 2˚C, but did not set binding targets to reduce the emissions of gases that scientists say are heating up the world’s atmosphere to dangerous levels.

In her annual Christmas broadcast, Queen Elizabeth II was to urge the 54 Commonwealth nations to keep taking the lead on global issues such as the environment.

“It is important to keep discussing issues that concern us all — there can be no more valuable role for our family of nations,” Britain’s monarch and the head of the Commonwealth will say, according to extracts released on Thursday.


In a study released on Wednesday, scientists said Earth’s various ecosystems, with all their plants and animals, will need to shift about 0.42km per year on average to keep pace with global climate change.

How well particular species can survive rising worldwide temperatures attributed to excess levels of heat-trapping “greenhouse” gases hinges on those species’ ability to migrate or adapt in place.

The farther individual species — from shrubs and trees to insects, birds and mammals — need to move to stay within their preferred climate, the greater their chance of extinction.

“Things are on the move, faster than we anticipated,” research co-author Healy Hamilton of the California Academy of Sciences said. “This rate of projected climate change is just about the same as a slow-motion meteorite in terms of the speed at which it’s asking a species to respond.”

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