US President Barack Obama and other world leaders on Sunday supported delaying a legally binding climate pact until 2010 or even later, under a compromise deal for next month’s Copenhagen summit.
“Given the time factor and the situation of individual countries we must, in the coming weeks, focus on what is possible and not let ourselves be distracted by what is not possible,” Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen told the leaders.
“The Copenhagen Agreement should finally mandate continued legal negotiations and set a deadline for their conclusion,” said the Copenhagen talks host, who flew into Singapore to lay out his proposal over at an Asia-Pacific summit.
Rasmussen’s two-step plan would pave the way for a political accord at the Dec. 7-18 talks, to be followed by haggling over legally binding commitments on targets, finance and technology transfer on a slower track, though still with a deadline.
It would give breathing space for the US Senate to pass carbon-capping legislation, allowing the Obama administration to bring a 2020 target and financing pledges to the table at a major UN climate meeting in Bonn in mid-2010.
“There was an assessment by the leaders that it was unrealistic to expect a full, internationally legally binding agreement to be negotiated between now and when Copenhagen starts in 22 days,” senior US negotiator Michael Froman told reporters after the meeting, which was attended by leaders of the US , China, Japan, Russia, Mexico, Australia and Indonesia.
“We believe it is better to have something good than to have nothing at all,” Chilean Foreign Minister Mariano Fernandez said.
Copenhagen was seen as the last chance for countries to agree on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol and put in place painful measures needed to fight a rise in temperatures that would bring more rising sea levels, floods and droughts.