Obama Presses China on Rules for Monitoring Emissions Cuts (Updated)

The New York Times reports on President Obama’s speech at the Copenhagen conference and efforts to reach consensus before the meetings end:

His remarks appeared to be a pointed reference to China’s resistance on the issue of monitoring, which has proved a stubborn obstacle at the talks and a source of tension between China and the United States, the two largest emitters of greenhouse gases.

After delivering the speech to a plenary session of 119 world leaders, Mr. Obama met privately with China’s prime minister, Wen Jiabao, in an hourlong session that a White House official described as “constructive.”

However, in a day of high brinkmanship and seesawing expectations, Mr. Wen did not attend two smaller, impromptu meetings that Mr. Obama and United States officials conducted with the leaders of other world powers, an apparent snub that infuriated administration officials and their European counterparts and added more uncertainty to the proceedings. At 7 p.m. Copenhagen time, Mr. Obama and Mr. Wen met again, joined by Prime Minister Mammoghan Singh of India and President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil.

Walking into the meeting room, Mr. Obama called out, “Mr. Premier, are you ready to see me? Are you ready?”

Watch Obama’s speech, via BBC. China Dialogue has translated Premier Wen Jiabao’s comments at Copenhagen. Read also “China’s delaying tactics threaten climate deal” from the Independent and “Has a U.S-China agreement on transparency been reached?” from Green Leap Forward.

Also, watch Thomas Friedman on the CBS Early Show saying that the negotiations in Copenhagen are really just a power struggle between China and the U.S.:

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Update: A climate deal has been reached, though it is limited in its scope. From Beth Daley for the Boston Globe:

The United States, China, India, Brazil, and South Africa last night reached what President Obama called a “meaningful and unprecedented breakthrough’’ to control climate change, although the agreement will not be legally binding and falls short of even the most timid expectations of what would come out of the much-anticipated talks here.

The last-minute deal, reached on the final day of the two-week climate summit, will set a target of keeping average worldwide temperatures from rising more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels – or roughly 2 degrees above today’s average. At current emissions levels, temperatures are expected by leading climate scientists to rise between 3 and 7 degrees by the end of the century. Obama acknowledged that the deal fell far short of most people’s expectations and would not be enough to keep within the temperature target and avoid the worst consequences of global warming.

“This is not a perfect agreement,’’ he said. “No country would get everything that it wants.’’

The agreement requires countries to list voluntary emissions-reduction targets that are not legally binding, and it establishes no deadline for completing a treaty that would require countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Most had expected that the talks would produce consensus to reach a treaty next year.

Emma Graham-Harrison takes a closer look at China in her “snap analysis” for Reuters, via Forbes:

China flexed its growing political muscle to seal a compromise climate deal that protected its national sovereignty, but did little for global warming or Beijing’s international image.

An eagerly-awaited climate summit in Copenhagen nearly collapsed on Friday, with most of the major developed-world players blaming China for its intransigence on the question of how its emissions-cutting commitments would be monitored.

Beijing’s refusal to budge on rich nation demands for greater transparency and checks — in a country not famous for its reliable statistics — was cited by negotiator after negotiator as a key block to reaching a deal.


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