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 Post subject: Climate summit clinches deal
PostPosted: December 18th, 2009, 9:36 pm 
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By Stephen Collinson and Richard Ingham (AFP) – 4 hours ago

COPENHAGEN — World leaders finally clinched a climate deal at the end of marathon talks Friday but admitted it would not halt global warming and campaigners denounced the outcome as an abject failure.

US President Barack Obama said a "meaningful" agreement had been reached during exhaustive meetings involving about two dozen presidents and prime ministers gathered in Copenhagen. Even Obama admitted however that it did not go far enough.

And the deal still have to get the approval of the 193 UN members states, including small island nations most at risk from the warmer Earth's temperatures that bring rising sea levels and the risk of more droughts, storms and floods.

"Today we have made a meaningful and unprecendented breakthrough here in Copenhagen," Obama told reporters.

"For the first time in history, all major economies have come together to accept their responsibility to take action to confront the threat of climate change."

The agreement foresees US contributions of 3.6 billion dollars in climate funds for the 2010-2012 period while Japan would contribute 11 billion dollars and the European Union 10.6 billion.

It also includes a commitment to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) -- well short of the demands of island nations.

But a decision on targets for reducing carbon emissions by 2020 was put off until next month, a European diplomat said.

And unlike earlier drafts, the new accord did not specify any year for emissions to peak.

The US president said before leaving Copenhagen that what had been billed as one the most important summits since World War II would be the starting gun for a much stronger effort to combat global warming.

"Going forward we are going to have to build on the momentum we have achieved here in Copenhagen. We have come a long way but we have much further to go."

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the deal was the only one that could be reached after the summit had revealed deep rifts.

"The agreement is not perfect but it's the best one possible," Sarkozy told reporters, adding that another global warming summit would be hosted by Germany in mid-2010.

The deal was hammered out in talks between Obama and the leaders of China, India, Brazil and South Africa as well as key European countries, diplomats said.

There was no immediate word on Russia's stance. President Dmitry Medevedev was one of the first to leave Copenhagen, having voiced frustration at the negotiation process overseen by the Danish government.

China had bristled at anything called "verification" of its plan to cut the intensity of its carbon emissions, seeing it as an infringement of sovereignty and saying that rich nations bore primary responsibility for global warming.

Disagreements between the United States and China had been at the core of the divisions holding up a deal.

But even if Washington and Beijing have now come to an understanding, the deal will still have to get the approval of the 194 UN members in attendance in Copenhagen.

The emergence of a deal came at the end of a day in which several drafts agreements were knocked back, with leaders themselves taking over the task of redrafting the exact wording of three pages of text.

Different versions of the document showed the leaders particularly split over whether to fix a firm date for finalising a legally binding treaty in 2010, and a commitment to slashing global carbon emissions in half by 2050.

Scientists say failure to curb the rise in Earth's temperature will lead to worsening drought, floods, storms and rising sea levels.

The agreement was met with dismay by campaigners.

"By delaying action, rich countries have condemned millions of the world's poorest people to hunger, suffering and loss of life as climate change accelerates," said Nnimmo Bassey, chair of Friends of the Earth International, calling the outcome "an abject failure".

"The blame for this disastrous outcome is squarely on the developed nations."

The WWF environmental group voiced concern that the Copenhagen does not bind nations to action.

"A gap between the rhetoric and reality could cost millions of lives, hundreds of billions of dollars and a wealth of lost opportunities," said Kim Carstensen, the leader of the WWF's Global Climate Initiative.

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