Quick Breakdown of Copenhagen Climate Talks Outcomes, and What

Quick Breakdown of Copenhagen Climate Talks Outcomes, and What

Alisa Opar
Published: 12/21/2009

Up until the last hours of the two-week United Nations Climate Change Talks, it looked like attendees weren’t going to come to any agreement, but in the end they hashed out and agreed to "note" the Copenhagen Accord, a three-page, non-binding plan to curb global greenhouse gas emissions. While it certainly isn’t the ambitious, legally binding agreement many were hoping for, it might still have some effect in reducing the amount of carbon being spewed into the atmosphere. Click here for a pdf of the accord.

Highlights include the decision that global temperature shouldn’t increase by more than 2 degrees Celsius (more than 100 nations, however, were pushing for 1.5 degree limit). Wealthy nations set a goal of providing funds to aid to poor countries, to the tune of $30 billion over the next three years and $100 billion a year by 2020.

The New York Times has a chart of the accords and the winners and losers.

Here’s what’s next: The non-binding pact gives countries until January 31, 2010 to include their voluntary pledges to curb emissions in the accord's annex. Though several of the big players, including the U.S., European Union, China, and Brazil made their pledges before COP15, critics say the efforts won’t be enough to prevent major environmental consequences. The next round of U.N. Climate Talks will be held in Mexico late next year.

Here’s what news outlets are reporting about the muddled proceedings at COP15, and what needs to be done before COP16:

The New York Times has an editorial praising President Obama’s role in eking out the accord, and highlighting what the actions the U.S. must take now.

The Wall Street Journal’s Jeffrey Ball reports that “Far from resolving the issue, the Copenhagen conference set up months more of international haggling over what to do about climate change.” And as for the COP15 accord, “But because the Copenhagen statement isn't binding, it needn't form the basis of any future negotiations.”

In the Guardian, British Climate Secretary Ed Miliband describes haggling over each paragraph of the accord, and raises questions about the structure and nature of future climate negotiations. He writes, “The procedural wrangling was, in fact, a cover for points of serious, substantive disagreement.”

At the Huffington Post, London Independent columnist Johann Hari argues that after the lack of a binding agreement in Copenhagen, it’s up to the people to demand action:

At least we know now: scientific evidence and rationality are not going to be enough to persuade our leaders. The Good Daddy isn't in charge. Nobody is going to sort this out—unless we, the populations of the warming-gas countries, make them. Politicians respond to the pressure put on them, and every single politician at Copenhagen knew they would get more flak at home—from their corporate paymasters and their petrol-hungry populations—for signing a deal than for walking away. There is only one way to change that dynamic: a mass movement of ordinary democratic citizens. They have made the impossible happen before. Our economies used to be built on slave labour, just as surely as they are built on fossil fuels today. It seemed permanent and unchangeable, and its critics were regarded as deranged—until ordinary citizens refused to tolerate it any more, and they organised to demand its abolition.