World Leaders Try to Save Global Climate Protection Deal at U.N. Conference

COPENHAGEN, Denmark, Dec. 18 (UPI) — U.S. President Barack Obama and more than 100 other world leaders started last-minute attempts to reach a global climate protection deal at a U.N. conference in Denmark.

Obama was to meet with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, in a bilateral session that could save or bury the talks.

China is refusing to have its emissions monitored and the United States is resisting demands to boost its emissions reduction commitment beyond the 17 percent it promised by 2020. Observers have been frustrated by the positions of both countries.

Yet Obama, who landed in snowed-in Copenhagen Friday morning, appeared determined to broker a deal on the final day of a two-week summit.

“I come here today not to talk but to act,” Obama told the conference.

But he indicated no willingness to increase the United States’ emissions reduction commitments, a position criticized by major environment groups. Instead, he vowed that the United States was ready to help raise $10 billion until 2012, and $100 billion a year by 2020 for poor nations under a binding treaty that spells out emission reduction targets for industrialized nations — but only if that accord includes transparency measures ensuring that “we are living up to our mutual commitments.”

China has been unwilling to have its emissions monitored, a stance called a “deal-breaker” by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Obama urged China to move.

“I don’t know how you have an international agreement where we all are not sharing information and ensuring that we are meeting our commitments. That doesn’t make sense,” he said.

“We are ready to get this done today. But there has to be movement on all sides.”

Jiabao didn’t mention any willingness to accept more transparency measures but vowed that China will follow up on its voluntary climate protection commitments “with real action.”

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil delivered a memorable speech ahead of Obama, saying that his country, in a desperate effort to move talks forward, was “willing to make more sacrifices … (and) put forward money to help other countries. We will do it.”

Lula added he was “frustrated … because for a long time we have been discussing climate change,” without a meaningful outcome. Lula took part in all-night talks to save the deal and emerged saying that he was “laughing in order not to cry.”

Meanwhile, negotiators were able to agree to limit warming to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit compared with pre-industrial levels.

Obama vowed that the United States would continue to push clean energy at home and mitigate emissions reductions “no matter what happens here in Copenhagen.”

But he added that “we will all be more secure if we act together” by agreeing to an ambitious global climate protection treaty.

Any agreement reached in Copenhagen will have to be spelled out legally in the coming months. That means Copenhagen is only the beginning of the negotiation process.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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