Saturday, February 27, 2010

Whatever Came Out of That Whole Thing in Copenhagen?

By John E Poole

I just spent the past hour sifting through articles on this climate change summit that just ended in Copenhagen. OK, OK, I only sifted through articles for about 20 minutes, but still, I never got any feeling that something was actually accomplished at this 11 day conference which included 190 countries. And I may have this feeling because nothing actually was accomplished at the summit. However, I get mixed reviews about this.

The goal of the Copenhagen summit was to come to a legally binding worldwide agreement that would tackle climate change by mandating the reduction in carbon emissions by developed nations and require financial assistance to developing countries to curb increasing emissions. More specifically the goal was to get developed and poorer nations to agree to a 50 percent emissions cut by 2050, as compared to 2000 levels. However, I did learn that it became clear very early on in the summit that there was no way this kind of agreement would be made.

I read that the summit was being described as everything from "lacking" to "chaotic" and that the Prime Minister of India may have gotten up and abruptly headed for the airport. There are also rumors that China single-handedly thwarted a binding agreement among the participants. But regardless of what is and isn't true about the whole ordeal, I think we can agree that the output of the summit was very lackluster.

So what did come out of this worldly meeting of the minds in Denmark? Well, in a last ditch effort to make the summit productive, the Copenhagen Accord was agreed upon among the countries of the United States, China, India, Brazil, and South Africa. The Accord does not dictate any mandatory reduction of emissions or requirements for financial assistance to developing countries. Basically they agreed that climate change is a problem and that increased cooperation is required to curb global pollution emissions. There are a number of goals in the agreement, but there is certainly no legal requirement for anybody to reach these goals. It is pretty much a "step" toward reaching a binding agreement at next year's climate summit in Mexico City.

Hopefully, the next decade will bring a little more cooperation.

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