Failure of Copenhagen Emissions Agreement Disappoints Europeans

Lisa Bryant

European politicians and environmentalists are expressing deep disappointment at the failure of world leaders to achieve a tough and binding greenhouse-gas reduction agreement in Copenhagen.  As Europe begins a new work week, the first tangible reaction is a fall of carbon prices on the European market.

The price of European carbon emissions permits fell by nearly nine percent Monday on the European Climate Exchange - Europe's carbon trading system that is the world's largest.  Experts say the fall was an immediate reaction to a non-binding climate change accord struck by world leaders in Copenhagen.

European businesses were not the only ones registering dismay at the outcome of Copenhagen. 

Speaking by video link to participants at an energy conference, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown echoed the disappointment, even as he argued Copenhagen was only the first step.

"I can not hide my disappointment," said Gordon Brown. "We did not get the climate-change treaty.  We are, however, still pressing for that, and I just want to say the campaign I envisage can be over the next few months."

Among other strides, Mr. Brown said countries had agreed to limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to sign up to emissions targets during the next few weeks.  He said part of the campaign would be to ensure those targets were at the upper range.

Other European politicians also tempered their reactions.  Brice Lalonde, France's ambassador to the climate change talks said, that while the Copenhagen accord was not ideal, it was not a failure either.

Lalonde told Europe 1 radio the accord was critical for two key reasons.  First, it set a figure for climate aid.  Second, it stressed transparency, so every country would know what others were doing to cut their emissions.

The European Union as a whole has committed to making some of the world's deepest emissions cuts, with a goal of slicing them 20 percent from 1990 levels by the year 2020.  The European Union offered to go up to 30 percent if other rich nations followed suit.

Some environmental groups, including Greenpeace, blame the European Union for failing to push China and the United States in particular to adopt a tough agreement in Copenhagen.  Greenpeace is calling for politicians to show resolve to reach what it calls a "meaningful deal" next year. 

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