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COPENHAGEN — President Barack Obama announced Friday a “meaningful and unprecedented breakthrough” on a global effort to curb climate change.

But Obama said, “It is going to be very hard, and it’s going to take some time” to get to a legally binding treaty.

A deal reached by the United States, China, India, South Africa and Brazil includes a method for verifying reductions of heat-trapping gases, a senior administration official said. The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity before Obama spoke, characterized the deal as a first step, not yet enough to combat the threat of a warming planet.

Under the agreement, the official said each country also will list the actions it will take to cut global warming pollution by specific amounts. The deal reiterates a goal that eight leading industrialized nations set earlier this year on long-term emission cuts and provides a mechanism to help poor countries prepare for climate change.

Obama addressed reporters traveling with him after racing from one impromptu meeting to another in snow-covered Copenhagen and delivering an animated plea for compromise on the final day of a 193-nation United Nations summit focused on curbing global warming.

The president had planned to spend only about nine hours in Copenhagen as the summit wrapped up after two weeks. But, as an agreement appeared within reach, he extended his stay by more than six hours to attend a series of meetings aimed at brokering a deal.


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