MONTREAL - The Harper Conservatives are trying to diffuse charges they failed to play a meaningful role in global climate change talks.

Environment Minister Jim Prentice was doing media interviews almost as soon as he got back from Copenhagen.

He's calling the shaky agreement brokered by U-S President Obama and a few other nations a significant step.

Canadian environmentalists, however, are using words like disappointing and failure to describe the deal that doesn't set new emission reduction charges.

Bruce Cox of Greenpeace Canada says it's pretty hard to put a positive spin on it.

Canadian negotiators wren't invited to the meeting where U-S President Obama and others hammered out the final draft.

But Prentice says Canada didn't need to be there because it's only responsible for two per cent of the world's emissions.

The government was roundly criticized by opposition critics and environmentalists for failing to take a leadership role at the summit.