The UN climate conference in Copenhagen today approved a deal to tackle global warming proposed by world leaders, despite opposition from a number of countries.
After another all-night session of wrangling among negotiators and officials, the accord was finally gavelled through to wide applause in the main conference hall of the talks in Copenhagen.
Last night details of the “meaningful” deal agreed between the US and China, India, Brazil and South Africa emerged, which included references to keeping temperature rises to no more than 2C and provisions for finance to help poor countries fight global warming.
But it has no long-term global targets for emissions cuts or a timetable to turn the agreement into a legally-binding treaty – leading environmental campaigners and aid agencies to brand it toothless and a failure.
This morning the conference said it “takes note” of the accord – and said the document setting out the deal would specify a list of countries which agreed with it, as some nations were still adamant they would not accept it.
The acknowledgement of the accord by the UN conference of more than 190 countries means that provisions for finance contained within it to help poor nations can become operational, officials said.
Under the accord, countries will be able to set out their pledges for the action they plan to take to tackle climate change, in an appendix to the document, and will provide information to other nations on their progress.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and EU chiefs said the deal was a first step but acknowledged there was much further to go to get the ambitious and legally-binding treaty countries such as the UK have been pushing for.
But Mr Brown attempted to brush off suggestions that his intense efforts to lead the case for a deal had ended in failure – insisting it was significant that all countries now backed the 2C target for the first time.
Overnight, however, the main conference of more than 190 countries struggled to endorse the accord – with the main plenary hearing from a number of countries including Sudan, Venezuela and Bolivia which opposed the deal.
Sudan’s delegate, Lumumba Di-Aping, said the accord would condemn Africa to many deaths from global warming and compared it with the Holocaust – a statement which was roundly condemned by others including the UK’s Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband.
The deal was brokered in a series of bilateral meetings and talks by a group of up to 30 countries – and appeared to have been sealed after US President Barack Obama turned up unannounced at a discussion between China, India, Brazil and South Africa.
Many leaders flew out late last night as details of the deal emerged, leaving ministers and officials to return to the full conference in a bid to get it passed.
Speaking following the formal close of the talks in Copenhagen, a day after they were due to finish, UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon said: ``We have sealed the deal. This accord cannot be everything that everyone hoped for, but it is an essential beginning.''
The attendance of 119 world leaders made the Copenhagen talks the largest gathering of heads of state and government in the history of the UN, and Mr Ban urged them to remain engaged as “climate change is the permanent leadership challenge of our time”.
The UN’s chief climate official Yvo de Boer said: “We now have a package to work with and begin immediate action.
“However, we need to be clear that it is a letter of intent and is not precise about what needs to be done in legal terms. So the challenge is now to turn what we have agreed politically in Copenhagen into something real, measurable and verifiable.”