China, U.S. praise nonbinding climate agreement

Chinese factory workers in Shenyang. Beijing hailed the nonbinding accord to cut carbon emissions.
Chinese factory workers in Shenyang. Beijing hailed the nonbinding accord to cut carbon emissions. (Associated Press)
By Associated Press
Monday, December 21, 2009

BEIJING -- China, the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, on Sunday lauded the outcome of the U.N. climate conference, which produced a nonbinding agreement that urges major polluters to make deeper emissions cuts -- but does not require it.

Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said the climate talks that brought together more than 110 world leaders in Copenhagen delivered "significant and positive" results.

The Obama administration on Sunday also defended the agreement as a "great step forward" -- despite widespread disappointment among environmentalists, who lament that the pact does not include mandatory targets that would draw sanctions.

"Nobody says that this is the end of the road. The end of the road would have been the complete collapse of those talks. This is a great step forward," White House senior adviser David Axelrod told CNN's "State of the Union."

Disputes between rich and poor countries and between the world's biggest carbon polluters -- China and the United States -- dominated the two-week conference.

The meeting ended Saturday after a 31-hour negotiating marathon, with delegates accepting a U.S.-brokered compromise. The resulting Copenhagen Accord calls for reducing emissions to keep temperatures from rising more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels. It also gives billions of dollars in climate aid to poor nations.

The international response on Sunday was not all rosy.

Former Cuban president Fidel Castro said the agreement was "undemocratic" and called President Obama's address to the conference "misleading." In one of his regular essays, published on Sunday, Castro wrote that only industrialized nations could speak at the meeting; emerging and poor nations only had the right to listen.

Bolivian President Evo Morales urged the world to mobilize against the failure of the Copenhagen conference and said that he would organize an alternate one.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, however, defended the outcome as a first step toward "a new world climate order."

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