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The Nation: Obama's Copenhagen Deal

Authors: David Corn, and Kate Sheppard
December 19, 2009

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David Corn and Kate Sheppard report on the varied reactions to President Obama's role in forming an agreement on climate change in Copenhagen.

The final deal at the Copenhagen climate summit, which was convened to develop a comprehensive international response to the threat of global warming, came down to a behind-closed-doors conversation among some of the most powerful people in the world about the difference between two terms: "examination and assessment" and "international consultations and analysis."

Then again, there may not have been a final deal. Late on Friday night, President Barack Obama announced that an agreement had been reached, establishing a minimalist accord that would not set a firm schedule with hard-and-fast targets for reducing emissions. But after Obama held a press conference to declare semi-victory--"this is going to be a first step"--and jetted back to Washington, European officials said nothing was in the bag. And Lumumba Stanislaus Di-Aping, the Sudanese chairman of the G77 bloc of least developed nations, claimed there was no deal. "What has happened today confirms what we have been suspicious of that a deal will be imposed by United States, with the help of the Danish government, on all nations of the world," he said.

This raised the question, was the Obama deal merely a side deal that would be agreed to by some nations but not all? A convenient bypass of international climate negotiations?

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