Climate deal protest held in San Francisco

December 18, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
While President Obama's aides worked on health care here at home, he was in Copenhagen, helping negotiate a tense meeting of world leaders at the United Nations' climate talks.

As negotiations teetered on the verge of collapse, the president burst into a meeting of Chinese, Indian and Brazilian leaders late on Friday to try and reach a climate agreement. A senior administration official says the president did not want the leaders negotiating in private and had asked to meet with those leaders individually.

Eventually, those negotiations resulted in an agreement that requires industrial countries to list their individual targets for reducing global warming pollution and asks developing countries to list the actions they will take to cut that pollution. Still, it is a deal a lot of people are criticizing.

Environmentalists say the deal is hollow and that world leaders did not deliver. Even Obama said there's still a long way to go on this issue. Some people in the Bay Area felt so frustrated and upset, they came together for a last-minute candlelight vigil.

Holding a candle on a sidewalk in downtown San Francisco on a Friday night might not catch Obama's attention, but some of these protestors say coming out to the protest made a big difference in their night.

"I just needed to be with other people who feel the way I do right now," said protester Kayla Starr.

These activists feel let down by what happened in Copenhagen and many of them think it is going to take more candlelight vigils and rallies to really bring about change.

"I had hoped that perhaps Obama would come through at the last minute with a good agreement. I think that I've had hope ever since he was elected, but I think that it is going to require a lot more pressure, a lot more people coming out and saying we really care about the planet Earth," said protester Ulla Nilsen.

Reaching the deal wasn't easy. Obama announced it five hours after he was supposed to have left Copenhagen. It came after several closed door meetings.

"For the first time in history all major economies have come together to accept their responsibility to take action to confront the threat of climate change," said Obama.

The nations agreed to do what they can to make sure the Earth's average global temperature will not go up more than two degrees Fahrenheit, but the deal is not legally binding. It doesn't give details about how much greenhouse emissions each nation will cut or how.

"We tried to be modest in what we thought we could accomplish... whatever it is that we promise, we can actually deliver on," said Obama.

The protesters say we need to cut greenhouse emissions by 40 percent. By their estimates, this agreement would cut them by three percent.


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