A Deal At Copenhagen After All? Er, Sort Of.

by Bradford Plumer | December 18, 2009

It looks like, at the very last minute, the heads of state at Copenhagen pulled a rabbit out of the ol' cap and struck a deal—but it's a mangy-looking rabbit at that. Here's the Wall Street Journal:

The White House said Friday that U.S. President Barack Obama, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and South African President Jacob Zuma reached a "meaningful agreement" for combating climate change. The deal was described by an administration official as "not sufficient to combat the threat of climate change but it's an important first step."

The White House official said developed and developing countries have agreed to listing their national actions and commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There will be a mechanism to funnel money to help developing nations pay for technology and projects to cope with the affects of climate change, such as rising sea levels.

The agreement sets a target of two degrees Celsius for the increase in global temperatures. Countries are supposed to provide information on the implementation of actions to cut carbon dioxide emissions through national communications, with provisions for international consultations and analysis under clearly defined guidelines, the official said.

Details of the language on verification of steps to curb greenhouse gases – which could be critical to political acceptance of the agreement in Congress – weren't immediately available. The so-called transparency issue was a critical stumbling block in discussions between the U.S. and China.

The administration 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 further progress."

This may be a foundation for future talks, but it's certainly far less than people were expecting. And there's no longer a mandatory deadline to get a full treaty finished by the end of 2010....

Update: Here's the text of the accord. And here's a good summary from David Biello:

A draft text of the accord... included goals to reduce global emissions by 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050; developed countries will reduce their emissions by 80 percent by 2050 as well as "X" (this is the literal wording at present) percent by 2020; developing countries will take "mitigation actions" that will be "subject to international measurement, reporting and verification"; $30 billion for adaptation and mitigation between 2010 and 2012 for the most vulnerable countries, including a "Copenhagen Climate Fund"; and a review of this accord in 2016, which will "include consideration of strengthening the long-term goal to limit the increase in global average temperature to 1.5 degrees [Celsius]."

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