President Obama announced on Friday that negotiations among the the world’s nations had resulted in a “meaningful and unprecedented breakthrough” on climate change.
One administration official, however, acknowledged in remarks to the Associated Press that it was only a first step and not sufficient in itself to head off global warming. Going by other reactions to the deal, that would appear to be an understatement.
The Guardian obtained a leaked draft of the agreement and reported that “it says countries ‘ought’ to limit global warming to 2C, but does not bind them to do so.”
The Toronto Star explains, “It is not binding and it does not set new greenhouse-gas reduction targets. Instead, countries are to set their own emission reduction commitments, which would not be legally binding. Those commitments will be the subject of further negotiation, with the aim of a final deal at next year’s summit in Mexico.”
A Greenpeace representative told The Guardian, “This latest draft is so weak as to be meaningless. It’s more like a G8 communique than the legally binding agreement we need. It doesn’t even include a timeline to give it legal standing or an explicit temperature target. It’s hard to imagine our leaders will try to present this document to the world and keep a straight face.”
A representative of World Development Movement used even stronger language, saying, “This summit has been in complete disarray from start to finish, and now appears to be culminating in a shameful and monumental failure that will condemn millions of people around the world to untold suffering. The leaders of rich countries have refused to lead and instead sought to bribe and bully developing nations to sign up to the equivalent of a death warrant.”
A spokesperson for Friends of the Earth condemned “this toothless declaration, being spun by the US as an historic success,” and a representative of the Sierra Club explicitly blamed “obstructionism in the United States Senate.” Even official representatives at the summit described the deal as “far below our expectations,” “very disappointing,” and “far short of the mark.”