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Meaningful Agreement: Obama Says 'A First Step' Climate Deal Has Been Reached In Copenhagen

Huffington Post   First Posted: 03/18/10 06:12 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 04:00 PM ET

A 'meaningful agreement' has been reached at the Copenhagen climate change conference, according to U.S. officials.

The deal includes China, India, and South Africa, but it is not enough to combat the threat of climate change, according to an official.

The New York Times has obtained a copy of an official administration memo:


Today, following a multilateral meeting between President Obama, Premier Wen, Prime Minister Singh, and President Zuma a meaningful agreement was reached. Its not sufficient to combat the threat of climate change but its an important first step.

We entered this negotiation at a time when there were significant differences between countries. 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 communicatios, with provisions for international consultations and analysis under clearly defined guidelines.

No country is entirely satisfied with each element but this is a meaningful and historic step forward and a foundation from which to make further progress.

We thank the emerging economies for their voluntary actions and especially appreciate the work and leadership of the europeans in this effort.

UPDATE: President Obama spoke at at a press conference Friday night at the Copenhagen climate talks stating that an agreement had been reached, but stressed that this is a "first step" in the process of regulating global emissions. This agreement is not legally binding, an important aspect that environmental advocates had been pushing for over the last two years of talks. Speaking about the failure to reach a legally binding agreement, Obama stated, "If we just waited for that, we'd not make any progress."

To see the full text of the agreement, which is being called The Copenhagen Accord, Grist.org has the full document.

The Washington Post goes on to describe the agreement as:

"appear[ing] to fall short of even modest expectations for the summit. As part of the agreement -- brokered after a last-minute meeting between Obama and his counterparts from China, India and South Africa -- industrialized and developing nations agreed to list their national actions and commitments in their fight against climate change, while vowing to take action to prevent the Earth's temperature from rising by more than 2 degrees Celsius. In addition, they agreed to provide information on the implementation of their actions, which would be subject to international review and analysis."

UPDATE: Reactions from environmental groups from around the world are beginning to pour in. Friends Of The Earth, an NGO which had been highly involved in advocating for an fair, ambitious and legally binding deal, released the following statement:

"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 isn't 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 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.

Bill McKibben, author and founder of 350.org, gave the following statement:

"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."

Kumi Naidoo, The Executive Director of Greenpeace, stated:

"Not fair, not ambitious and not legally binding. The job of world leaders is not done. Today they failed to avert catastrophic climate change.

The city of Copenhagen is a climate crime scene tonight, with the guilty men and women fleeing to the airport in shame. World leaders had a once in a generation chance to change the world for good, to avert catastrophic climate change. In the end they produced a poor deal full of loopholes big enough to fly Air Force One through.

We have seen a year of crises, but today it is clear that the biggest one facing humanity is a leadership crisis."

This is a breaking news and developing story. Check back soon for updates.

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