Obama on Copenhagen: “We have much further to go”

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Press Conference, Copenhagen 18 December 2009

Today we’ve made meaningful and unprecedented — made a meaningfuland unprecedented breakthrough here in Copenhagen. For the first timein history all major economies have come together to accept theirresponsibility to take action to confront the threat of climate change.

Let me first recount what our approach was throughout the year andcoming into this conference. To begin with, we’ve reaffirmed America’scommitment to transform our energy economy at home. We’ve made historicinvestments in renewable energy that have already put people back towork. We’ve raised our fuel efficiency standards. And we have renewedAmerican leadership in international climate negotiations.

President Obama addressing full Climate Summit

Most importantly, we remain committed to comprehensive legislationthat will create millions of new American jobs, power new industry, andenhance our national security by reducing our dependence on foreign oil.

That effort at home serves as a foundation for our leadership aroundthe world. Because of the actions we’re taking we came here toCopenhagen with an ambitious target to reduce our emissions. We agreedto join an international effort to provide financing to help developingcountries, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable, adapt toclimate change. And we reaffirmed the necessity of listing our nationalactions and commitments in a transparent way.

Transparency, Mitigation & Finance

These three components — transparency, mitigation and finance — formthe basis of the common approach that the United States and ourpartners embraced here in Copenhagen. Throughout the day we worked withmany countries to establish a new consensus around these three points,a consensus that will serve as a foundation for global action toconfront the threat of climate change for years to come.

This success would have not been possible without the hard work ofmany countries and many leaders — and I have to add that because ofweather constraints in Washington I am leaving before the final vote,but we feel confident that we are moving in the direction of asignificant accord.

In addition to our close allies who did so much to advance thiseffort, I worked throughout the day with Prime Minister Meles ofEthiopia, who was representing Africa, as well as Premier Wen of China,Prime Minister Singh of India, President Lula of Brazil, and PresidentZuma of South Africa, to achieve what I believe will be an importantmilestone.

Earlierthis evening I had a meeting with the last four leaders I mentioned —from China, India, Brazil, and South Africa. And that’s where we agreedto list our national actions and commitments, to provide information onthe implementation of these actions through national communications,with international consultations and analysis under clearly definedguidelines. We agreed to set a mitigation target to limit warming to nomore than 2 degrees Celsius, and importantly, to take action to meetthis objective consistent with science.

Taken together these actions will help us begin to meet ourresponsibilities to leave our children and our grandchildren a cleanerand safer planet.

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