U.N. climate talks end with bare minimum agreement
U.N. climate talks ended with a bare-minimum agreement on Saturday when delegates "noted" an accord struck by the United States, China and other emerging powers that falls far short of the conference's original goals.
"Finally we sealed a deal," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. "The 'Copenhagen Accord' may not be everything everyone had hoped for, but this ... is an important beginning."
A long road lies ahead. The accord -- weaker than a legally binding treaty and weaker even than the 'political' deal many had foreseen -- left much to the imagination.
It set a target of limiting global warming to a maximum 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial times -- seen as a threshold for dangerous changes such as more floods, droughts, mudslides, sandstorms and rising seas. But it failed to say how this would be achieved.
It held out the prospect of $100 billion in annual aid from 2020 for developing nations but did not specify precisely where this money would come from. And it pushed decisions on core issues such as emissions cuts into the future.
"This basically is a letter of intent ... the ingredients of an architecture that can respond to the long-term challenge of climate change, but not in precise legal terms. That means we have a lot of work to do on the long road to Mexico," said Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat.
Another round of climate talks is scheduled for November 2010 in Mexico. Negotiators are hoping to nail down then what they failed to achieve in Copenhagen -- a new treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol. But there are no guarantees.
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