After the close of COP15 on Saturday, international reaction to the final agreement has been mixed, particularly among two of the conference's biggest players. The most heated criticism for the outcome of the climate talks was directed at US president Obama, delivered by Brazilian Environment Minister Carlos Minc, who said:
"Do something, Obama, or return the Nobel Prize."The connection Minc was trying to make between the recently awarded Peace Prize and the results of COP15 are unclear, but controversial statements tend to grab people's attention whether they make sense or not.
Disappointment in Brazil
Brazil was seen by many in Copenhagen as a pioneer among developing nations for its ambitious pledges to reduce CO2 emissions, and for so effectively reducing the rate of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest. The expectations of Minc and the Brazil's President Lula were largely unfulfilled by what they sensed as an unwillingness on behalf of the United States to invest sufficiently in the global effort to curb climate change. The compromise of a $10 billion investment, for Minc, "left much to be desired."
This $10 billion is so little that to fulfill our goals of Brazil with public and private money, we'll spend $16 billion per year. All they are willing to give developing countries both to adapt as mitigation for at least the first three years, is less than what Brazil will spend to meet its goal, being a developing country.
Satisfaction in China
The dissatisfaction felt by Brazilian leadership at the close of CO15 wasn't shared by another key player in the negotiations. According to O Estado, China, the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, felt the US proposal was "significant and positive." The so-called Copenhagen Agreement proposes an aid of billions of dollars to poor countries adapt to climate change, but does not require the world's biggest polluters make deeper cuts in emissions of gases causing the problem.
Yang Jiechi, Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs:
Developed countries and developing countries are very different in their historical responsibility and current levels of emissions, as well as its basic national and stages of development. Therefore, they must carry different responsibilities and obligations in the fight against climate change.
The contrast between Brazil's disappointment and China's satisfaction with the agreement made at COP15 highlight the complexities of international politics. And, while interested observers may be equally as divided in their opinion of the settlement, most should concur that it amounts to a step (or nudge) in the right direction.