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Friday, December 18, 2009

Obama Addresses World Leaders at Climate Talks

U.S. President Barack Obama told world leaders at the final day of the Copenhagen climate change conference Friday it is time for "the nations of the world to come together behind a common purpose."

Negotiators have failed after two weeks of talks to hammer out an agreement cutting greenhouse gas emissions, which many scientists blame for global warming.

Media reports say the text of a draft agreement, which could change, does not mention deep emissions-cutting targets for industrialized nations, falling well short of the goal of a legally binding pact.

Acknowledging that some nations feel the United States is not doing enough, Mr. Obama said world leaders must accept an accord, even if it is not perfect.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon urged conference participants Friday to move forward with "compromise, common sense, and courage."

Two of the biggest obstacles to an agreement are the U.S. refusal to propose deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and China's refusal to allow verification of its emissions cuts.

Without mentioning China specifically, the U.S. president said there could be no international agreement without sharing information.

Media reports say the climate pact is likely to call for preventing global temperatures from going up more than 2 degrees Celsius. Small island nations, worried about rising seas, have called for a cap of at 1.5 degrees.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Thursday that the United States would help launch a $100 billion annual fund to help developing nations cope with such consequences of global warming as rising sea levels.

But she says the U.S. offer hinges on whether those countries cut emissions and allow verification.

China says earlier agreements exclude it and other developing nations from what it says are voluntary emissions cuts. The Chinese also say the U.S. offer to cut emissions by 17 percent is not enough. U.S. negotiators say the Congress would not approve deeper cuts at this time. Secretary Clinton said Thursday the 17 percent is an initial step towards a 50 percent reduction by 2050.