Progress reported as world leaders continue talks

Updated: 2009-12-19 11:43
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COPENHAGEN: Progress had been made as world leaders continued their last-ditch talks late Friday, trying to rescue a global deal on further efforts against climate change.

"The world's leaders have come together once again to move the climate negotiations forward, after having gathered in smaller groups during the afternoon," the European Union's (EU) Swedish presidency said on its official website.

More than 110 world leaders, including US President Barack Obama and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, gathered here Friday, aiming to conclude a 12-day struggle to hammer out an agreement on reduction of greenhouse gas emission after the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol ends in 2012.

US President Obama said late Friday that a "meaningful and unprecedented breakthrough" had been achieved on a global deal to fight climate change.

But Obama said the agreement is not legally-binding and was still under drafting.

"It is going to be very hard, and it is going to take some time" to get to a legally binding treaty, he said.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy also confirmed that progress had been made after a meeting between several European leaders and US President Obama.

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"Yes, there has been progress," Sarkozy told reporters.

The progress was reported following hours of intensive negotiations among the leaders of major players in the fight against climate change, including a multilateral meeting between Obama, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and South African President Jacob Zuma.

However, the fate of the deal remained unclear despite reported headway in the hard-fought negotiations.

Showing little room for flexibility, Obama told the summit at a plenary session that the United States has done its part for the deal, calling others to act.

"We have made our commitments, and we will do what we say. Now, I believe that it is time for the nations and people of the world to come together behind a common purpose," he said.

He again urged all major economies to put forward decisive national actions on emission reduction and accept a review mechanism for their actions, a move feared by developing countries as an intrusion on their national sovereignty.

Obama also called for financial support for developing nations to help them adapt to climate change.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday announced a plan to join other developed countries to mobilize 100 billion US dollars annually for developing countries by 2020, but Washington placed a precondition that major economies must allow review of their mitigation actions.

Brazilian President Lula said although rich countries may have the right to demand transparency regarding mitigation actions supported by them, there should be caution about the intervention into the developing and less developed countries.

"These papers cannot threaten the individual sovereignty of each country; each country has to have the competence to do its own oversight," he said.

The EU said the talks were boiled down to three main issues.