‘Meaningful agreement’ struck in Copenhagen

‘MEANINGFUL’ AGREEMENT STRUCK IN COPENHAGEN…. It looked for a while as if the international climate talks in Copenhagen would unravel altogether, producing nothing. But this afternoon, less than a half-day after President Obama arrived in Denmark, and on the final day of the 12-day, 193-nation summit, negotiators appear to have reached a deal. It’s reportedly not a great deal, and it’s probably a stretch to call it a good deal, but it’s evidence of some progress.

World leaders reached a climate deal Friday night, according to an Obama administration official and other sources familiar with the talks. They said the deal provides a means to monitor and verify emissions cuts by developing countries but has less ambitious climate targets than the United States and European governments had initially sought.

An Obama administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a “meaningful agreement was reached” following a multilateral meeting between President Obama and the leaders of China, India and South Africa. “It’s not sufficient to combat the threat of climate change, but it’s an important first step,” the official said.

“Developed and developing countries have now agreed to listing their national actions and commitments, a finance mechanism, to set a mitigation target of 2 degrees Celsius and to provide information on the implementation of their actions through national communications, with provisions for international consultations and analysis under clearly defined guidelines,” the official said. “No country is entirely satisfied with each element, but this is a meaningful and historic step forward and a foundation from which to make further progress.”

The biggest shortfall, based on initial reports, appears to be the framework for future agreements: “The accord drops the expected goal of concluding a binding international treaty by the end of 2010, which leaves the implementation of its provisions uncertain. It is likely to undergo many months, perhaps years, of additional negotiation before it emerges in any internationally enforceable form.”

Nevertheless, the circumstances that led to the deal sound pretty entertaining:

The deal came after a dramatic moment in which Mr. Obama burst into a meeting of the Chinese, Indian and Brazilian leaders, according to senior administration officials. Chinese protocol officers noisily protested, and Mr. Obama said he did not want them negotiating in secret. The intrusion led to new talks that cemented key terms of the deal, American officials said.