By Marianne Barriaux (AFP) – Nov 17, 2009
BEIJING — US President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that the United States and China want next month's climate change talks in Copenhagen to culminate in a global accord that has "immediate operational effect."
We "agreed to work toward a successful outcome in Copenhagen," Obama told journalists after talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao.
"Our aim there is... not a partial accord or a political declaration, but rather an accord that covers all the issues in the negotiations and one that has immediate operational effect."
"This kind of comprehensive agreement would be an important step forward in our effort to rally the world around a solution to our climate challenge," Obama said.
Obama gave no further details and a joint statement released after the two leaders spoke merely reiterated support for earlier UN goals on climate change.
On Sunday, Asia-Pacific leaders, including Obama and Hu, acknowledged it would be unrealistic to reach a legally binding agreement at the December 7-18 conference. Related article: Denmark lauds US, China support
Ministers from 42 countries were wrapping up a meeting in the Danish capital on Tuesday, assessing a proposal by Denmark to end the deadlock.
A diplomatic source in Copenhagen said a proposed end-of-summit statement would include a pledge of "fast-track" finance -- funds to help poor countries cope with the impacts of global warming and move to lower-carbon energy.
The money could be disbursed swiftly, before a fully-fledged treaty is sealed next year, according to the Danish idea.
China and the United States are the world's No. 1 and No. 2 carbon polluters, accounting together for 37.5 percent of global emissions of the six main greenhouse gases, according to the World Resources Institute (WRI).
Their positions are key to the outcome of the Copenhagen conference, a two-year process that aims at building a post-2012 planet-wide treaty on tackling climate change.
China argues that rich nations bear historical responsibility for triggering climate change and that developing nations should not be legally bound to cut carbon emissions blamed for rising temperatures.
The United States meanwhile has called for more aggressive mitigation steps by China.
Obama said China and the United States had agreed to take significant steps to reduce carbon emissions, but gave no specifics.
"We agreed that each of us would take significant mitigation actions and stand behind these commitments," Obama said as Hu looked on.
"As the two largest consumers and producers of energy, there can be no solution to this challenge without the efforts of both China and the United States."
Hu also said the two leaders had agreed to work toward an accord in Copenhagen, while repeating Beijing's insistence on the different "responsibilities" rich and poor nations have in addressing climate change.
"We also agreed to act on the basis of common but differentiated responsibilities and consistent with our respective capabilities to work with other parties concerned to help produce positive outcomes from the Copenhagen conference," he said.
China points out that its per capita emissions, though growing fast, remain much lower than those of the United States due to its huge population of 1.3 billion people.
Hu told a September summit at the United Nations that China would reduce the intensity of its carbon emissions as a percentage of economic growth by a "notable margin" by 2020 from their 2005 levels.
Environmental group Greenpeace released a statement after the Hu-Obama talks criticising the US president for a continued "lack of leadership."
"In the lead-up to Copenhagen, Obama is still failing to address the most important issue that is causing the disagreements between the two countries at the climate talks, which is the absence of an emission reduction target from the US," said Kyle Ash, legislative director for Greenpeace USA.
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