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Copenhagen deal: "meaningful" or "abject failure?"

Obama brokered the beginnings of a pact in Copenhagen, but almost no one is pleased with the contents.

Under the text, rich nations agree to set themselves targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by Feb. 1, 2010. Poorer nations should set and monitor their own "nationally appropriate" emissions reductions, reporting the results every two years.

A long-term target to cut overall greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent of 1990 levels by 2020, and for developed nations to reduce theirs by 80 percent by the same period, was dropped, as was a target date to turn the declaration into a legally binding text. The leaders agreed that average global temperature rises should be held below 2 degrees Celsius but they could not formulate a roadmap for reaching that goal.

"Copenhagen has been an abject failure," said Nnimmo Bassy, chair of the campaign group Friends of the Earth. "We are disgusted by the failure of rich countries to commit to the emissions reductions they know are needed, especially the U.S."

The campaigners say the deal will likely mean that the 2-degree target will be exceeded. Many African and small island nations had said from the beginning that 2 degrees was too high anyway and lobbied for a limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Even nations that went along with the deal acknowledged its shortfalls.

"Nobody's happy with it," said Sergio Serra, Brazil's special ambassador for climate issues. "It is a partial failure."

After hours of deadlock, Obama announced a breakthrough after he huddled with the leaders of Brazil, India, China and South Africa. He then persuaded European Union nations to go along with the deal, even if they were unhappy at its lack of ambition. French officials said the choice was either to accept the deal or walk away from Copenhagen with no agreement and bad blood between leading world powers.

"This accord is better than no accord," said European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. "I will not hide my disappointment ... . The text agreed today falls far short of our ambitions."

The rich world did offer $30 billion to help poor, vulnerable nations cope with climate change over 2010-2012, funding that should rise to $100 billion a year by 2020. But even that was denounced as insufficient by Sudan's Di-Aping.

"Industrialized nations have decide that damage to developing countries is acceptable," he told reporters. "They do not accept that developing nations have fundamental rights."

Editor's note: This story has been updated to account for news developments.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/global-green/091218/copenhagen-obama-deal