0

Obama: Progress on climate

Photo by Susan Walsh

Photo by Susan Walsh

COPENHAGEN -- President Barack Obama said the United States, China and several other countries reached a ''unprecedented breakthrough'' Friday to curb greenhouse gas emissions -- including a mechanism to verify compliance -- after a frenzied day of diplomacy at the U.N. climate talks.

The agreement, which also includes the developing nations of India, South Africa and Brazil, requires each country to list the actions they will take to cut global warming pollution by specific amounts, a senior Obama administration official said. The official described the deal on the condition of anonymity because specific details had not been announced.

Under the agreement, the official said each country also will list the actions it will take to cut global warming pollution by specific amounts. The deal reiterates a goal that eight leading industrialized nations set earlier this year on long-term emission cuts and provides a mechanism to help poor countries prepare for climate change.

Obama spent the final scheduled day of the climate talks meeting with world leaders, including Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, in a bid to salvage the global warming accord amid deep divisions between rich and poor nations.

In announcing the five-nation deal, Obama said getting a legally binding treaty ''is going to be very hard, and it's going to take some time.''

He said the nations of the world will have to take more aggressive steps to combat global warming. The first step, he said, is to build trust between developed and developing countries.

The deal struck Friday includes a method for verifying reductions of heat-trapping gases, the official said. That was a key demand by Washington of China, which has resisted international efforts to monitor its actions.

Obama had planned to spend only about nine hours in Copenhagen as the summit wrapped up. But, as an agreement appeared within reach, he extended his stay by more than six hours to attend a series of meetings aimed at brokering a deal.

The two-week, 193-nation conference has been plagued by growing distrust between rich and poor nations. Both sides blamed the other for failing to take ambitions actions to tackle climate change. At one point, African delegates staged a partial boycott of the talks.

''We are ready to get this done today but there has to be movement on all sides to recognize that is better for us to act rather than talk,'' Obama had said in an address to the conference, insisting on a transparent way to monitor each nation's pledges to cut emissions.