Obama In Copenhagen; Climate Talks In Disarray; Urges 'Action Over Inaction'

As he starts a whirlwind day in Copenhagen, where he's attending the close of the U.N. Climate Change Conference, President Barack Obama is being greeted with stories such as this, from the Associated Press:

The U.N. climate talks were in serious disarray Friday, with delegates blaming both the U.S. and China for the lack of a political agreement that President Barack Obama, China's premier and more than 110 other world leaders are supposed to sign within hours.

The New York Times says Obama is "bent on applying a combination of muscle and personal charm to secure a climate change agreement involving nearly 200 countries."

NPR's Richard Harris reports from Copenhagen that:

The two weeks of talk have been chaotic from the start. That's not so unusual for climate talks. Typically deals are cut only at the last moment — or even after the meetings are supposed to have ended. But this time, with more than 110 heads of state in attendance, the meetings may not be able to drag on an extra day. And with just hours to go, there's no consensus on a deal.

Many poor countries say the wealthy nations' goals of addressing climate change aren't ambitious enough. And China and the United States continue to face off over whether China needs to commit to action under a new legally binding agreement. China doesn't want to.

Reuters says that the diplomats and leaders are "considering a target of limiting global warming to a maximum 2 degrees Celsius, backed by a new fund of $100 billion a year to aid developing nations, according to a draft text pulled together on Friday morning."

We'll be following the news from Copenhagen through the day.

Update at 7:55 a.m. ET. Here's a recording of the president's address:



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The Associated Press describes Obama as "clearly frustrated" by the lack of progress so far at the summit. Judge for yourself by watching this video clip:

Update at 6:45 a.m. ET. Just a few minutes ago, the president told those gathered at the summit that the draft agreement they're considering is "not perfect." But, he added:

"This is the bottom line: we can embrace this accord, take a substantial step forward, continue to refine it and build upon its foundation. We can do that, and everyone who is in this room will be a part of a historic endeavor — one that makes life better for our children and our grandchildren.

"Or, we can again choose delay, falling back into the same divisions that have stood in the way of action for years. And we will be back having the same stale arguments month after month, year after year, perhaps decade after decade — all while the danger of climate change grows until it is irreversible.

"Ladies and gentlemen, there's no time to waste. America has made our choice. We have charted our course, we have made our commitments, we will do what we say. Now, I believe it's the time for the nations and people of the world to come together behind a common purpose."

Update at 6:05 a.m. ET. Here's the latest from Reuters:

No deal has yet been reached at climate talks in Copenhagen, with Chinese objections to a monitoring system for CO2 emissions proving a key stumbling block, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Friday.

"The discussions lasted all night without interruption," Sarkozy told reporters during a break. "The good news is that they're continuing, the bad news is they haven't reached a conclusion," he said, adding: "There is a lot of tension."

Update at 6 a.m. ET: Reuters has posted what it says are excerpts from a draft agreement here. Whether any of that language will survive, though, is the big unknown.

Update at 5:45 a.m. ET. The AP now adds that Obama has been forced "to upend his schedule and hold close-door talks with 19 other world leaders to work out a last-minute agreement on fighting global warming."

And, AP writes that "French President Nicolas Sarkozy says progress in climate talks is being held back by China."

By the way, if you haven't seen it yet there's a new NPR blog — 13.7 — which aims to "at the intersection of science and culture." They've got some opinions about climate change.



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