With all the reports, controversy, and rumors that have been swirling over the past two weeks, it's been a challenge keeping up with and making sense of what really went down in Copenhagen. Various parties involved hold very contrasting views over how negotiations turned out. China, UN Secretary Ban Ki Moon and even the vulnerable country of Bangladesh took a positive outlook, while Sweden, Bolivia, Brazil and others felt the resolution was unacceptable and demanded much stronger regulations and emissions cuts than what the U.S.-brokered "Copenhagen Accord", reached Saturday, calls for. Nonetheless, here is an attempt to break down the accord, in terms of both potential pros and cons:
PROS: During negotiations major countries, including China, the U.S., India and Europe, agreed that the risks of climate change could not be left unchecked. Included in the final Copenhagen Accord was a goal to restrict global temperature rise to no more than 2 degrees Celsius. Another section of the accord covers the commitment to support climate change adaptation projects in developing countries through a collective international fund of $100 billion per year until 2020.
CONS: The non-legally binding Copenhagen Accord, however, was not adopted by the UN -- only "taken note of" -- and it was not supported by all countries represented at negotiations. The accord was labeled by the Sudanese Chairman of the G77, the largest developing country bloc represented at the COP15, as comparable to a "suicide pact" -- which he would not be entering into. Also, the accord's emissions targets do not fall in line with what science says is necessary to actually meet the goal of keeping global temperature rise under 2 degrees Celsius.
While this may be oversimplifying things, all in all it seems that though hopes for a global treaty were high prior to last week's summit (a potential climax of decades of debate), realistic expectations were probably quite a bit lower. Perhaps a more realistic goal for the close of Copenhagen was the laying of groundwork necessary to continue talks of a binding treaty into 2010. This goal may indeed have been realized, as historically speaking no preceding summit has reached such a consensus on the urgency of climate change. As stated by UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer, "We now have a package to work with and begin immediate action.” Only time will tell.
For more on the summit outcome via a first-hand account from the Mother Nature Network's blogger Karl Burkart, click here.