Center for American Progress

STATEMENT: Andrew Light on The Interim Agreement in Copenhagen and the Close of the Climate Summit
Press Statement

STATEMENT: Andrew Light on The Interim Agreement in Copenhagen and the Close of the Climate Summit

"Shortly before leaving Copenhagen on Friday, President Obama announced that the text of an interim political agreement, ‘the Copenhagen Accord’ was finalized. The agreement was reached with the cooperation of a surprising array of parties from the developing world, including leaders from Brazil, South Africa, India, and China. This is a first step toward finishing a new internationally ratifiable agreement on climate change. United Nations General Secretary Moon and other parties have committed themselves to the next step of turning this document into a legally binding agreement by the next UN climate summit in Mexico City in 2010.

"Last month, the Danish government outlined the proposal for a two step process; today’s developments mark significant success toward achieving this goal. Accepting this two step process effectively allowed the United States for the first time to propose interim targets for emissions reductions, put money on the table for quick start financing for two years, and to reassert America’s leadership on this issue.  We commend the US negotiators and Secretary Clinton for a job well done under extremely difficult circumstances.

"Despite the tremendous amount of work that now needs to be done, this interim agreement takes a bold move towards fundamentally changing how the world looks at ending carbon pollution. The United States’ union with these four countries is premised on a new guiding assumption for climate negotiations: that the world is divided between the major emitters of carbon pollution and everyone else; not simply a division between developed and developing countries. Though there will be differences among the expectations of emissions reductions among this group, all will be expected to carry their fair share of this challenge in the Copenhagen Accord. This new dynamic moves us away from a world where decreasing carbon pollution is only advanced at the expense of economic competitiveness.

"President Obama was clear that the science of global warming will guide the ambitions of the Copenhagen Accord as it moves toward its next step. This is good news. For the first time, an international agreement on climate change includes provisions for considering holding temperature increases lower than 2 degrees Celsius to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

"Now the US Congress must meet this challenge and finish the job it began last summer of achieving energy independence, creating millions of clean energy jobs, and carving out the basis for international leadership on climate change."

Andrew Light is a specialist in international climate policy and is a Senior Fellow with Center for American Progress.