COPENHAGEN // A UN summit tacitly approved a new accord uniting the world against global warming yesterday, but not without sharp criticism from many climate advocates and lingering sentiment that the world's poorest countries had been left out in the cold. The US and the leading developing states cut a deal late on Friday that proponents said was an imperfect but important breakthrough in a long-running dispute between industrial and developing countries over global warming.
The deal was the result of 14 hours of negotiations spurred by Barack Obama, the US president, with China, India, Brazil, South Africa and the European Union. The agreement, known as the Copenhagen Accord, is the "foundation for the first truly global agreement" on climate change, but must be followed by more negotiations next year, said Ban ki-Moon, the UN secretary general. The agreement was a far cry from the binding international treaty negotiators had sought, and included only three major developments:
It solidified a consensus among major economies that global warming should be held to two degrees Celsius. It provided funding from industrial countries to help poorer states deploy clean technology and adapt to the changing climate. It offered an outline of a registration and consultation system as a means to verify that countries are cutting emissions. The agreement does not specify the level of emissions reductions needed to hold the temperature increase to two degrees.
The 119 heads of state in Copenhagen should have done better, said Wael Hmaidan, the executive director of IndyACT, a Lebanese climate activist group. "World leaders have completely failed us," he said. "Never has such a number of influential people been sitting together in the same place, and they blew it." The accord did not get by the conference without an epic, all-night session as lower-level ministers fought to have it approved by reluctant developing countries.
The representative of the bloc of G-77 developing nations, Lumumba Di-Aping, said he would block the accord because the two degrees of warming and a lack of emissions cuts amounted to "asking Africa to sign a suicide pact".
The conference worked out a compromise to let it pass by agreeing to simply "take note of the Copenhagen Accord of December 18".
Shadi Ghanim's cartoon, a26 Main editorial, page a27