Cowen and Gormley unhappy with result STEPHEN COLLINS and FRANK McDONALD The Irish Times - Monday, December 21, 2009

CLIMATE CHANGE SUMMIT: THE OUTCOME of the Copenhagen conference has been described as “a disappointment” by Taoiseach Brian Cowen and Green Party leader and Minister for the Environment John Gormley.

However, both men described the “fudge” as a better outcome than no deal. “The fact that we don’t have legally binding targets is a big disappointment and, from our point of view, we won’t hide the fact this isn’t as ambitious a deal as we would have liked coming into these negotiations,” said Mr Cowen.

Mr Gormley said it was now clear certain parties had come to the talks with the objective of blocking an agreement rather than negotiating one, as they did not want legally binding commitments.

“At the end, you saw division taking place on the floor in fairly unseemly scenes, I have to say, and it broke up in a very bad spirit. That is what I am worried about. We could face the prospect now of being derailed. However, we still feel now we got something and it hasn’t broken down irretrievably.”

Mr Gormley, speaking on RTÉ Radio’s This Week programme, said that a meeting of all the EU leaders and environment ministers had to make a big call on how to respond to the evolving position.

“Should we reject this out of hand? And that was a view expressed by some. Others felt, well, if we reject it we come away from Copenhagen totally empty-handed, and there is a real chance that the process itself could irretrievably break down and then we wouldn’t be in a position to get an agreement later on in Mexico.

“We feel that we have kept the process on track at the very least. We can now meet and will be meeting as environment ministers next Tuesday in Brussels to see how we can go forward,” said Mr Gormley. “That was our call. Yes, you can describe it as a fudge but, as we know from our own process in relation to Northern Ireland, sometimes a political fudge is necessary, and under the circumstances this was all that we could do.

“I am disappointed. I know what has to be done. The science is telling us we have to move urgently on this question. That we need to make cuts of around 80- 95 per cent in industrialised countries by 2050. I have done everything here at home in order to ensure that we can comply with our commitments,” said the Minster. He added that a comprehensive deal could not be achieved without the involvement of the United States and China, as these two countries were responsible for over half of the world’s carbon emissions. Describing the Copenhagen outcome as a case of “continuing denial” that the problem could be fixed in such a “very convoluted and hazy way”, Mr Gormley bemoaned the lack of specific commitments.

He said it had been a very difficult decision for the Danes, but they came to the view that President Barack Obama could get the key players around the table and seal a deal, but this meant smaller countries could be excluded.

The Irish Times - Monday, December 21, 2009