Disappointment over Copenhagen summit ″justified″, says Obama | Environment| All topics from climate change to conservation | DW | 24.12.2009
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Disappointment over Copenhagen summit "justified", says Obama

US President Barack Obama has said observers of this month’s UN climate conference in Copenhagen were right to feel let down by the outcome of the gathering, supporting widespread views the summit was a failure.

President Barack Obama makes a statement at the United Nations Climate Change Conference at the Bella Center in Copenhagen

Obama says no backward steps were taken at Copenhagen

Disenchantment over the outcome of the recent Copenhagen climate conference was "justified," said US President Barack Obama. However he defended the little progress that was made at the meeting of representatives from over 190 countries.

"I think that people are justified in being disappointed about the outcome in Copenhagen," Obama told PBS television Wednesday after the summit ended with only vague prescriptions to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

"The science says that we've got to significantly reduce emissions over the next 40 years. There's nothing in the Copenhagen agreement that ensures that that happens," he acknowledged.

But Obama added: "What I said was essentially that rather than see a complete collapse in Copenhagen ... at least we kind of held ground and there wasn't too much backsliding from where we were."

The Copenhagen Accord, which recognizes the need to limit global temperature increases to two degrees centigrade, was effectively passed after angry discussions at the Danish capital's Bella Centre.

Angela Merkel delivers a speech at the Copenhagen climate summit

Angela Merkel said observers should refrain from "bad mouthing" the summit outcome

But it prompted criticism for not setting tough, legally binding limits on future carbon emissions for the 193 nations present.

Finger pointing

Earlier this week the European Union sought to shift much of the blame for the outcome of the summit on the US and China, the world's two largest emitters of carbon dioxide which most scientists believe is a leading cause of anthropogenic climate change.

Sweden, which currently holds the EU presidency, described the Copenhagen agreement as a disaster for the environment, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel was slightly more upbeat, commenting that the accord was something that "now needed to be built upon."

In the aftermath of the conference developed and developing nations have traded blows over who was to blame for the weak deal that was reached.

Britain accused China of hijacking the proceedings, while Brazil attacked the perceived lack of commitment shown by Washington. In turn, India harangued Australia for being an "ayatollah of the single track," and small island nations like Tuvalu accused rich nations of blatant disregard for their plight.


Editor: Jennifer Abramsohn

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