The Danish Prime Minister has called Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed “the real hero of Copenhagen” following a marathon 30 hour negotiation session, however global response to the final accord is proving underwhelming.
Prime Minister Lars Rasmussen told a press conference that intense pressure from the Maldives reignited the debate when it threatened to stall. When talks broke down, Nasheed appealed to argumentative nations “to leave pride aside and adopt this accord for the sake of our grandchildren.”
The Maldivian president joined world leaders including Barack Obama (US), Gordon Brown (UK), Nicholas Sarkozy (France) and Angela Merkel (Germany) in drawing up the Copenhagen Accord, which was then adopted by more than 150 countries following fiery debate.
The accord recognises that global temperatures should rise no higher than two degrees Celcius above pre-industrial levels, but does not commit developed countries to legally-binding emission reduction targets.
The flavour of the talks revealed that sovergnity and development remain a higher priority than climate change for many large growing economies. China was particularly irritable on the subject: Prime Minister Wen Jiabao stormed out of the conference after disagreements with the US over international monitoring.
“This was our sovereignty and our national interest [at stake],” said the head of China’s delegation, Xie Zhenhua, before sending a low-ranking protocol officer to resume negotiations with Obama.
China’s revised agreement, which was backed by many large developing nations including Brazil and India, commits to a two degree limit but does not force cuts on any country.
Meanwhile Sudanese delegate Lumumba Di-Aping caused carnage when he stood up and described the final accord as “a solution based on the same very values that piled six million people into furnaces in Europe”.
The most tangible success was an agreement to deliver US$30 billion in short-term funding to developing countries over a three year period, in an effort to help them adapt to climate change and adopt clean energy technologies.
“Small island developing states” were highlighted in the agreement as potential beneficiaries of this money, which included US$10.6 billion pledged by the European Union, US$11 billion from Japan, and US$3.6 billion from the United States.
It appeared there would also be more to come: the accord promised the developing world an annual US$100 billion by 2020 to aid ‘clean’ development, drawn from public and private sources.
“The world stood at the abyss last night but this morning we took a step back,” President Nasheed said, following yesterday’s negotiations.
“The Copenhagen Accord is a long way from perfect. But it is a step in the right direction. We did our best to accommodate all parties, we tried to bridge the wide gulf between different countries, and in the end we were able to reach a compromise,” he said.
However the two degree temperature limit fell short of his expectations: “To save our country from climate change, we need an agreement that limits temperature rises to 1.5 degrees and reduces atmospheric carbon concentrations to 350 parts per million,” Nasheed said.
“While this accord does not deliver these targets there is room within the agreement to migrate toward 1.5 degrees and 350 parts per million, pending scientific assessments.”
Media response to the accord was rather tepid, while some campaigners have called it “a disaster.”
In the UK, the Guardian described the final two page agreement as “vaguely worded, short on detail and not legally binding,” while the Times blasted it as “lukewarm” and “meaningless”.
Al Jazeera reported that the deal had left “only bitterness and anger at the deal done between the US and the world’s emerging economies”, while the Wall Street Journal observed that the final wording of the accord and a lack of formal approval “means countries are left with the choice of associating with the agreement or not.”