The interim agreement, reached after a 31-hour negotiating session following days of deadlocked discussions, refers to climate change as "one of the greatest challenges of our time" and says deep cuts in global emissions are required to curb a further increase in global temperatures.
"We should cooperate in achieving the peaking of global and national emissions as soon as possible, recognizing that the time frame for peaking will be longer in developing countries and bearing in mind that social and economic development and poverty eradication are the first and overriding priorities of developing countries and that a low-emission development strategy is indispensible to sustainable development," the treaty said in part.
The treaty was drafted by leaders of the United States, China, India, Brazil and South Africa and formally accepted by the Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP15) during the closing session.
Disputes between rich and poor nations had plagued the talks, which one U.N. environment official described as "in crisis mode." Many nations had expected the United States and China, the world's two largest carbon polluters, to commit to further emissions cuts, but the two nations were vague about their intentions.
To offset the cost developing nations face in cutting emissions, wealthier countries agreed to provide $30 billion in aid over the next three years and $100 billion annually by 2020.
President Obama, who flew to Copenhagen late in the week to help broker a deal, called the Copenhagen Accord "a meaningful and unprecedented breakthrough" because for the first time in history major economies have come together to "accept their responsibility to take action to confront the threat of climate change."
The treaty dropped a previous 2010 deadline for achieving a legally binding agreement to fight global warming, and while it refers to "deep cuts" in global emissions, it doesn't provide exact figures.
E. Calvin Beisner, a spokesman for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, provided ongoing commentary during the talks as a non-government organization representative in Copenhagen. He said he observed little discussion of temperatures or science but plenty of politics and money at the conference.
Beisner also said that during the past 50 years the wealthy countries of the West have given more than $50 trillion in aid to poor countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa. Such aid, he said, slows progress because it props up corrupt regimes and perpetuates a sense of helplessness in the people.
Rather than throwing billions more into combating climate change, Beisner proposed a closer look at the data used to make the case for global warming. As the Copenhagen conference was wrapping up, Russian scientists confirmed that climate scientists in Britain mishandled Russian temperature data, resulting in exaggerated global warming claims.
"Climategate II involves the Hadley Center for Climate Change at the British Meteorological Office in Exeter, Devon, England," Beisner wrote Dec. 17. "The Russians have revealed that the Hadley folks 'have probably tampered with Russian climate data,' ... and, because they depend on Hadley for the Russian data, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as well."
The bottom line, Beisner said, is that Hadley scientists manipulated data from Russian temperature monitoring stations in a manner that overrepresented urban stations and underrepresented rural stations.
"The consequence: a fabricated, falsely strong signal of global warming for Russia, an area large enough to greatly affect the global average estimates. Hadley's mistreatment of the data created an apparent 2.06C rise in temperature since 1860, while the full Russian raw data show 1.4C rise instead," Beisner wrote.
"All the more reason why, as I suggested in an earlier blog post, there should be a moratorium on all international, national, state or provincial, and local climate-change related treaty making, legislating, and regulating until a comprehensive, independent, forensic investigation of climategate -- and now climategate II -- has been completed."
Compiled by Baptist Press staff writer Erin Roach.
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