New climate deal disappoints

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Most Norwegian environmental advocates were “disappointed,” “sad” and even “angry” over the “tame” terms of a deal hammered out by the US, China, Brazil and India to help stop climate change. No one believes it will actually do that, but as reaction emerged during the weekend, many think the deal is at the very least a step in the right direction.

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, who was among those working day and night last week to push through an agreement at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, told news bureau NTB that he thinks “we accomplished something.”

The alternative to the deal agreed by the world’s biggest generators of harmful emissions, Stoltenberg said, was “fiasco and breakdown.”

“That would have been destructive for ongoing negotiations,” Stoltenberg told NTB. “Now we’ve taken a small step along the way, but a lot of work remains.”

European leaders wanted a deal that would limit global warming to 2 degrees, and force massive, concrete emissions cuts around the world.

The deal struck Friday night was weaker, with no concrete goals for emission cuts. The US, China, Brazil and India decided, however, to demand full openness about various countries’ climate measures. They also agreed to adopt measures that will limit global warming to 2 degrees. Major funding is being offered to finance climate measures that can hinder climate change in developing countries, and a legally binding deal is due by next December.

Newspaper Aftenposten called these aspects of the deal “unexpected victories,” and noted that both the US and China were making major strides towards important climate measures themselves, after years of resisting them while George W Bush was president. New US President Barack Obama now says climate change threatens security, health and the future of the planet, and the US is taking steps to cut its own emissions. So is China, perhaps by as much as 45 percent.

That’s progress, even though it doesn’t satisfy environmental advocates who wanted much tougher measures. “I’m disappointed, sad and angry,” said Ingeborg Gjærum of Natur og Ungdom (Nature and Youth). The world’s leaders, she claimed, “held our future in their hands and then let their chance get away.”

Rasmus Hansson of WWF in Norway said the lack of a tougher deal “can cost millions of human lives.”

Frederic Hauge, perhaps Norway’s most well-known environmentalist, tempered his reaction and refused to view the deal as entirely negative.

“I think everyone needs to sit down and use some time to evaluate what has happened,” he told Aftenposten . “The world needs much more than this, but at the same this has proven to be a little showdown over how the international processes work.”