After months of talking and two weeks of negotiations, no agreement has been reached. A clearly frustrated Obama said “the time for talk is over.”
“We can take a substantial step forward…or we can choose delay…but we will be back having the same stale arguments month after month, year after year, perhaps decade after decade, all while the danger of climate change grows until it is irreversible,” he said.
During his remarks, it was apparent that there is still a level of distrust in how each nation would hold each other accountable to their commitments.
He exhorted leaders to drop their doubts and put forward decisive national actions, create a mechanism to review that all are keeping their commitments in a non-intrusive way that infringes upon sovereignty, and develop financing to help developing countries who are most vulnerable to climate change.
“I don’t know how you have an international agreement where we all are not sharing information,” he said. “That doesn’t make sense. That would be a hollow victory.”
The United States has committed to cut emissions in the range of 17% by 2020 and by more than 80% by 2050. The U.S. also pledged to ramp up financing by $10 billion in 2012 and $100 billion 2020 for vulnerable developing countries if an agreement can be made.
Although a solution needs to be reached for the least-developed countries, Carolyn Green, chair of the Commission to Engage African Americans on Climate Change delegation attending the conference in Copenhagen, said that an equitable solution for communities of color in the United States also need to be addressed.
“African American communities are disproportionately affected by climate change, in terms of health impacts, economic effects, and quality of life issues,” said Green. “These disproportionate effects are even more stark when comparing the nations of Africa to the rest of the world.”
According to a survey by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies released in September African Americans believe that global warming is a series threat to their communities and they want the government to do something to reverse it.
Obama pledged that the U.S. will continue on its course of action to “turn the corner” on climate change with or without coming to an agreement in Copenhagen. The U.S. has renewed its leadership within international climate negotiations and worked with other nations to phase out fossil fuel subsidies.
“There is no time to waste-we have charted our course, we have made our commitments, and we will do what we say,” said Obama. “America is ready to get this done today.”