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21 December - Global leaders call Copenhagen as 'essential beginning'

A woman walks past a globe, part of the 'Cool Globes' exhibition, Copenhagen December 19, 2009 (Getty)

Leading global figures have cited the Copenhagen Accord (PDF 182.25KB) on fighting climate change as an 'essential beginning' to a process that must end with a legally binding deal on delivering a reduction in harmful greenhouse gases.


United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said: 'We have sealed the deal. This Accord cannot be everything that everyone hoped for but it is a step in the right direction. This decision of the Conference of Parties is a beginning – an essential beginning.'


'While I am satisfied that we have a deal here in Copenhagen I am aware that it is just a beginning and it will take more than this to definitely tackle climate change.'


Head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change secretariat, Yvo de Boer, said (PDF 177.87 KB) that world must be 'honest' about what Copenhagen had achieved.


'The world walks away from Copenhagen with a deal. But clearly ambitions to reduce emissions must be raised significantly if we are to hold the world to 2 degrees,' he said.


'We now have a package to work with and begin immediate action. However, we need to be clear that it is a letter of intent and is not precise about what needs to be done in legal terms. So the challenge is now to turn what we have agreed politically in Copenhagen into something real, measurable and verifiable.'


As the shape of a deal emerged at midnight on Friday18th, the UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, called the Accord a vital 'first step' and conceded that first steps are 'often difficult.' He later added, that 'I can't hide my disappointment that we didn't get the climate treaty we wanted', but added that the negotiations were 'probably the most complex negotiations anyone has ever been in'.


The UN is urging world leaders to fulfil three tasks:


  • Turn the Accord into a legally binding treaty;
  • Launch the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund to ensure that it delivers immediate help to people in vulnerable countries; and
  • Pursue the highest ambitions for the final outcome.


United States President Barack Obama said the world had made a 'meaningful and unprecedented' breakthrough in Copenhagen. 'This progress did not come easily, and we know that this progress alone is not enough,' he told reporters in Copenhagen.


'Going forward, we're going to have to build on the momentum that we've established to ensure that international action to significantly reduce emissions is sustained and sufficient over time. We've come a long way, but we have much further to go.'


Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said that the international climate talks had produced 'significant and positive' results. 'Developing and developed countries are very different in their historical emissions responsibilities and current emissions levels, and in their basic national characteristics and development stages,' Yang said in a statement, according to AP. 'Therefore, they should shoulder different responsibilities and obligations in fighting climate change. The Copenhagen conference is not a destination but a new beginning.'


José Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Commission, acknowledged that the Accord was 'a positive step but clearly below our ambition'.


'Copenhagen was, I think, a first step but we need many more steps in the future. And we, as the European Union, will pursue with our ambition,' he said.


The Prime Minister of Bangladesh, one of the nations worst-hit by global warming, said she was satisfied with the Copenhagen summit's outcome, and hoped rows over thorny issues would be ironed out soon.


'I am pleased to say that we have been successful in arriving at a reasonable conclusion,' Sheikh Hasina said, while speaking at Lund University in Denmark just hours after the world leaders hammered out a deal.


'An agreement has been agreed upon taking in most of all our concerns. There are certain areas that would be finalised in the coming days,' she said, according to reports


Related links

Copenhagn Accord (PDF 182.25KB)

Copenhagen climate deal meets qualified UN welcome, BBC News 19 December 2009

Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC (PDF 177.87 KB)

Remarks by the president during press availability in Copenhagen, The White House 18 December 2009

Post-Copenhagen stakeholder event

China: Climate talks yielded 'positive' results, Jamaica Observer 21 December 2009

José Manuel Durão Barroso President of the European Commission Statement of President Barroso on the Copenhagen Climate Accord COP 15 Copenhagen, Europa 19 December 2009

Worst-hit Bangladesh pleased with climate deal, The Peninsula 21 December 2009