I’m not going to call this a UNFCCC deal or a COP15 deal. This was a Heads of State deal. At least at now that’s all it is. Anyway, reactions as they come:
Bill McKibben, American environmentalist and founder of 350.org, responds to Obama’s press conference this evening:
“This is a declaration that small and poor countries don’t matter, that international civil society doesn’t matter, and that serious limits on carbon don’t matter. The president has wrecked the UN and he’s wrecked the possibility of a tough plan to control global warming. It may get Obama a reputation as a tough American leader, but it’s at the expense of everything progressives have held dear. 189 countries have been left powerless, and the foxes now guard the carbon henhouse without any oversight.”
Ricken Patel, Executive Director of Avaaz.org, said:
“The so-called Copenhagen Accord is an historic failure, representing the collapse of international efforts to sign a binding global treaty that can stop catastrophic climate change. Perhaps most telling, while leaders themselves recognize that this agreement is insufficient, they have set no deadline or even date to complete it.
“After years of effort, it’s important for the world to understand why Copenhagen failed, and the bulk of the responsibility lies with two nations. While the us and china had some differences, they shared a determination to produce a weak agreement in Copenhagen. The world’s largest polluters formed a low ambition carbon coalition, and prevented the world from rising to this historic challenge. The world called for a fair, ambitious and binding treaty, but the US opposed fairness, China opposed bindingness, and they both opposed ambition. Each had their reasons. The US is hamstrung by a legislature captured by the fossil fuel lobby, and Chinese leaders will not risk the high growth rates that legitimates their undemocratic rule. Every nation will pay the price for the avarice and flawed governance of these two countries.
“While leaders failed to make history in copenhagen, ordinary people did not. In thousands of vigils, flashmobs, rallies and marches, millions of petition signatures, and hundreds of thousands of phone calls, a movement was born in this moment, and that is the most hopeful story today. While leaders were divided in Copenhagen, people were not. This battle has been lost, but it is a long fight, and the people cannot afford to lose.
“There are some opening champagne at this moment. They are the fossil fuel lobbyists and polluting industries who have worked for years to capture key leaders and deny democracy today. They have so far operated in the shadows, but in the coming months the climate movement will take the fight directly to these lobbies and the legislatures they have captured.
“We discovered today that the fight to save the planet from catastrophic climate change will be longer and tougher than many thought. But we have also seen the rise of a movement that can win it.”
Statement of Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth U.S., on tonight’s announcement by President Obama:
Climate negotiations in Copenhagen have yielded a sham agreement with no real requirements for any countries. This is not a strong deal or a just one — it isnt even a real one. It’s just repackaging old positions and pretending they’re new. The actions it suggests for the rich countries that caused the climate crisis are extraordinarily inadequate. This is a disastrous outcome for people around the world who face increasingly dire impacts from a destabilizing climate.
The blame for the failure to achieve a real deal lies squarely on the rich countries whose pollution has caused the climate crisis — especially the United States. Rich countries refused to budge from the grossly inadequate emissions reduction proposals they brought to Copenhagen, and they failed to put sufficient money on the table so that poor countries that did not cause this crisis have the capacity to cope with it.
With the future of all humans on this planet at stake, rich countries must muster far more political will than they exhibited here. If they do not, small island states will become submerged, people in vulnerable communities across the globe will be afflicted with hunger and disease, and wars over access to food and water will rage.
The devastation will extend to those of us who live in wealthy countries. If we cannot find a way to cooperate with others to produce a real agreement to solve this problem, climate change impacts will devastate the U.S. economy, undermine our security, and inflict irreparable harm on future generations.
The failure to produce anything meaningful in Copenhagen must serve as a wake up call to all who care about the future. It is a call to action. Corporate polluters and other special interests have such overwhelming influence that rich country governments are willing to agree only to fig leaf solutions. This is unacceptable, and it must change.
Fortunately, while the cost of solving the climate crisis rises each day we fail to act, the crisis remains one that can largely be averted. It is up to the citizens of the world — especially citizens of the United States, which has so impeded progress — to mobilize and ensure that true solutions carry the day. I firmly believe that together, we can still achieve a politics in which climate justice prevails.
Statement of Carl Pope, Sierra Club Executive Director:
“The world’s nations have come together and concluded a historic–if incomplete–agreement to begin tackling global warming. Tonight’s announcement is but a first step and much work remains to be done in the days and months ahead in order to seal a final international climate deal that is fair, binding, and ambitious. It is imperative that negotiations resume as soon as possible.
“President Obama and the rest of the world paid a steep price here in Copenhagen because of obstructionism in the United States Senate. That a deal was reached at all is testament to President Obama’s leadership–all the more remarkable because of the very weak hand he was dealt because of the Senate’s failure to pass domestic clean energy and climate legislation. Now that the rest of the world–including countries like China and India–has made clear that it is willing to take action, the Senate must pass domestic legislation as soon as possible. America and the world can no longer be held hostage to petty politics and obstructionism.
“What was clear over the past two weeks is that there is no argument over the science of global warming or the urgency with which we must act. A parade of developed and developing counties alike made crystal clear that they would implement their national plans to tackle global warming and building the clean energy economy not because they were required to do so, but because it was simply in their own national interest to do so.
“The agreement reached here has all the ingredients necessary to construct a final treaty–a mitigation target of 2 degrees Celsius, nationally appropriate action plans, a mechanism for international climate finance, and transparency with regard to national commitments. President Obama has made much progress in past 11 months and it now appears that the U.S.–and the world–is ready to do the hard work necessary to finish what was started here in Copenhagen.
“A chilly two weeks in Copenhagen has given humanity its best chance of preventing the ravages of a warming world. Today’s deal is neither perfect nor complete, but we must not this chance slip away.”
I’m not going to call this a UNFCCC deal or a COP15 deal. This was a Heads of State deal.…Read post →
Says the NYTimes:
The United States, China, India and South Africa have reached a “meaningful agreement” at the Copenhagen climate change conference, an Obama administration official said.
“It’s not sufficient to combat the threat of climate change, but it’s an important first step,” the official said. “No country is entirely satisfied with each element, but this is a meaningful and historic step forward and a foundation from which to make progress.” [read more]
Obama presser imminent. Watch or listen here.
Says the NYTimes:
The United States, China, India and South Africa have reached a “meaningful agreement” at the Copenhagen climate…
Command and control.
We know Obama met with Wen Jinbao earlier. Apparently there was another with Vice Minister He. The U.S. supposedly pressed hard for a global emissions reduction goal for 2050. China, predictably, wasn’t too keen.
Now Obama is supposed to speak w/ Chinese President Hu Jintao who’s in Beijing (on the phone, I assume), and then going to meet again with the Danish presidency (Prime Minister Rasmussen) and someone from China all together later this evening.
That’s all I’m getting from the inside.
We know Obama met with Wen Jinbao earlier. Apparently there was another with Vice Minister He. The U.S. supposedly pressed…Read post →
Kassie Siegel, director of the Climate Law Institute of the Center for Biological Diversity, had the following response to President Obama’s speech:
“Obama offered only ultimatums to those countries most impacted by global warming; accept our terms or we will block funding to help you survive the crisis we caused but for which we still refuse to take responsibility.”
“Notably, in an apparent conscious renunciation of one of the most fundamental principals of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Obama replaced the phrase ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’ with the new phrase ‘common but differentiated responses.’ In short, under Obama, the U.S. apparently refuses to accept its unique responsibility as the largest cumulative greenhouse emitter on the planet.”
“Given Obama reaffirmed his position that the U.S. would commit to cutting carbon dioxide emissions by only 3% below 1990 levels by 2020, any deal announced in Copenhagen can not in any rational sense of the word be deemed a ‘success.’ The IPCC estimates that CO2 reductions of 25-40% below 1990 levels are needed by 2020 to avoid greater than 2 degrees of warming, while cuts of over 45% are likely needed to get on a trajectory for the only scientifically and ethically credible target of 350 ppm.”
“For the U.S. to put on the negotiating table a take-it-or-leave-it proposal that, by all reasonable and rational accounts would result in the death or displacement of millions of people and the extinctions of hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) of species, is unacceptable. It’s hard to image Obama the Candidate endorsing such position. But Obama the President is, when it comes to actual actions on climate, far closer to President Bush than Candidate Obama. The U.S. and the world need Candidate Obama to reemerge.”
Count Friends of the Earth as being less than impressed:
“President Obama’s rhetoric is empty. The U.S. has failed to significantly improve upon the weak position it brought to these talks.
“This speech appears to be more of a face-saving exercise for President Obama than an attempt to unite countries around a truly planet-saving agreement.
“The United States came to these negotiations with a weak position, and now appears to be attempting to take the rest of the world down to our level. It simply must do better.”
WWF President and CEO Carter Roberts in response to President Obama’s speech before the UN Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen:
“In coming to Copenhagen at the critical final stage of this two-year process, President Obama outlined the building blocks of a deal and expressed his conviction that work still needs to be done. He has put an emissions target on the table and pledged his commitment to long-term climate financing – both critical pieces of a final deal.
“But that’s not enough to knit together the world community at this pivotal hour. As the President has said numerous times, all countries need to stand behind their commitments and agree to make those commitments transparent.
“That applies to the US as well. The only way the world can be sure the US is standing behind its commitments is for the President to clearly state that climate change will be his next top legislative priority. The ultimate test of his leadership will be engaging the Senate and delivering action in Congress early next year.
“The world’s future hangs in the balance. At this critical hour, the ‘fierce urgency of now,’ of which Dr. King spoke so about eloquently, is ringing loudly.”
About the authorBen Jervey
Ben Jervey comes from New York City. He works to better communicate climate, energy, and environmental issues to mainstream audiences. His reporting and work on climate change and clean energy have brought him from the streets of New York to the glaciers of eastern Greenland, to the mountain villages of Vietnam.