Obama urges unity in final hours of Copenhagen summit | World | DW | 18.12.2009
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Obama urges unity in final hours of Copenhagen summit

Obama urged nations to accept a less-than-perfect climate agreement in the final hours of the summit in Copenhagen on Friday. A new draft agreement called the "Copenhagen Accord" drops a previous deadline extension.

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks on the podium during the plenary session at the climate summit in Copenhagen

Obama called on nations to make concessions in order to strike a deal now

US President Barack Obama urged world leaders to "act together" on an accord to fight climate change during a speech in Copenhagen on Friday, as heads of states huddled in overtime on the final day of talks.

"I believe we can act boldly, and decisively, in the face of a common threat. That's why I come here today - not to talk, but to act," he told the UN summit.

Negotiations over the past 12 days have so far failed to produce a climate pact, as rich and poor nations struggle to agree on how to curb carbon emissions and how much to pay to mitigate the effects of a warming planet.

"I have to be honest, as the world watches us today, I think ability to take collective action is in doubt right now and it hangs in the balance," said Obama, during the final hours of the conference.

"At this point the question is whether we will move forward together or split apart, whether we prefer posturing to action."

Talks stumbled into overtime beyond the scheduled 6:00 pm finish on Friday with leaders still deadlocked over the wording of a pact to temper global warming.

New draft agreement

A previous draft had extended the deadline to reach a legally binding agreement to the end of 2010; however, the latest draft eliminated it.

The new draft being considered by world leaders is called the "Copenhagen Accord". It would not be binding in international law, but would include previous objectives.

Activists supporting the tiny Pacific island of Tuvalu demonstrate in the main venue demanding a better deal for all island states at the UN Climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark,

Many activists are disappointed about the lack of progress in Copenhagen

"We shall, recognizing the scientific view that the increase in global temperature should be below two degrees and in the context of sustainable development, enhance our long-term cooperative action to combat climate change," it said.

"There's lots of tension," said French President Nicolas Sarkozy. "But despite everything things are moving a little."

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh acknowledged the outcome "may well fall short of our expectations."

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said the world community had "clearly underestimated" the task of reaching not just a binding agreement but even a general declaration.

"We still have a long and difficult road ahead of us," he added.

Activists expressed disappointment.

"President Obama can still save Copenhagen by doing what he called on other leaders to do and give some ground by increasing his commitment to cut global warming pollution," said Greenpeace US director Phil Radford.

"As it is he crossed an ocean to tell the world he has nothing new to offer, then said take it or leave it."

vj/Reuters/AFP

Editor: Kyle James

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