Impatient Obama urges forward movement in Copenhagen, but glum mood prevails
COPENHAGEN — There’s a sour mood inside the Bella Center, where a closed-door meeting among more than a dozen heads of state or top national officials on Friday morning appeared not to have yielded any immediate agreement. Talks are supposed to wrap up today, but there’s a rumor that Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, told delegates to plan on staying until Sunday.
Friday has so far seen a string of speeches by heads of state, including a visibly frustrated U.S. President Barack Obama, who urged the leaders to break through the impasse.
“This is not a perfect agreement, and no country would get everything that it wants,” the president said. [You can read the full prepared text.] “… We know the fault lines because we’ve been imprisoned by them for years. But here is the bottom line: we can embrace this accord, take a substantial step forward, and continue to refine it and build upon its foundation. We can do that, and everyone who is in this room will be a part of an historic endeavor—one that makes life better for our children and grandchildren.”
He repeated the United States’ pledge for CO2 emissions reductions—“in the range of 17 percent [below 2005 levels] by 2020, and by more than 80 percent by 2050.” Other countries have criticized those targets as far too weak.
Obama did not mention China by name, but took a dig at the way the country has resisted transparency measures for monitoring emissions cuts. “I don’t know how you have an international agreement where we all are not sharing information and making sure we are meeting our commitments,” he said. “That doesn’t make sense. It would be a hollow victory.”
There was an interesting difference between Obama’s advance prepared remarks and the speech as delivered, as David Corn of Mother Jones noted. Where the advance text read, “I believe that the pieces of that accord are now clear,” Obama actually said, “I believe that the pieces of that accord should now be clear.”
Is this a sign that the Copenhagen talks may fail to produce even a weak, tentative accord — a so-called “fig leaf” deal that would provide world leaders the barest of cover? That’s one line of speculation. Of course, that could be out of date within a few hours.
More from the Twitter feeds of the AP climate team and a Singapore journalist: Obama has reportedly just finished a 55-minute meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, in which they made progress on key points mentioned in Obama’s speech. [Editor’s note: Read more about the Obama/Wen meeting.] No official announcement yet. The wait continues.