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To Summarize Copenhagen

December 21, 2009

From the desk of Ms. Green Quick Fixes

There is no global agreement, but negotiations resulted in accord with US, China, India, Brazil, and South Africa. Other countries are invited to sign.

Once the December United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (COP15) was over, the Internet was awash with weary and cynicism. Members of various Linkedin groups counseled each other back and forth and cries were read on Facebook. Later that week, 350.org sent letters to its followers calling global leadership a disappointment and citizens for more action. The Massachusetts Climate Action Network wrote to its list serve saying the conference was a “bust,” and while New England is considered a climate leader, MCAN noted our region is the 7th largest carbon emitter in the world. Greenpeace, and many others, simply said COP15 failed.

The problem with the conference for most climate change advocates is that no specific targets were made, there is no implementation plan for meeting reductions, and funding for the meantime, is in theory only.

For me, COP15 started with learning that public belief in global warming has cooled. According to the Pew Research Center, there was a 15% drop in believers in the year and a half leading up to the conference. That both surprised and concerned me.

And though USA Today reported in December that a majority of Americans support a global treaty to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, people not yet alarmed about global warming are beginning to lose interest in the conversation. Some find it boring, and the concepts, including the purpose of going green, elusive.

Within the two weeks that was COP15, I realized that despite all of the roller coaster-like ups and downs—and while there is more to say, do, and inspire—in the end, we have something we haven’t had in a decade. That means we have somewhere to continue to go. And what did we really have before COP15? For carbon, the sky was the limit then.

Highlights of the Accord

  • The accord recognizes climate change, and directs all signatories to set and comply with 2020 emissions targets, which will be submitted to the UN secretariat January 31.
  • Developing countries will be paid to cut their emissions, thereby preventing deforestation. Starting this year, developed countries, like the U.S., will give up to $30 billion through the Copenhagen Green Fund through 2012, with a goal of $100 billion by 2020.
  • There is to be monitoring of undeveloped nations, and powered by Google Earth and JAXA, we can all watch. New 2009-acquired data layers are available.
  • There will be carbon trading, bureuocracy, and next year’s UN climate conference in Mexico City.

Highlights of COP15 Major Plays

  • 350.org’s blog http://www.350.org/about/blogs/climate-shame-climate-hope reports on the gloomy end of the conference.
  • Sec. of State Clinton offers $100 billion in what is seen as a game changing move in China/U.S. climate negotiations.
  • The U.S holds bilateral talks with China, India, Brazil, and South Africa. Sec. of State Hillary Clinton meets with all 30 island nations represented at the conference.
  • The U. S.-United Arab Emirates agree to peaceful nuclear cooperation.
  • 350.org calls on followers to bombard U.S. Sec. of State Hillary Clinton’s mailbox. It was full, and I couldn’t leave her the message.
  • 350.org reports a leaked conference document recognizing 350 ppm in handwriting.
  • The European Union (EU) puts up 2.4 billion euros for developing nations.
  • China and the U.S. argue oversight.
  • Africa walks out of COP15, talks suspend, but a blueprint appeared.
  • EU parliamentarians tell Big Oil to cease pillaging Canadian tar sands as “an outrageous example of irresponsibility.”
  • China calls on U.S. to lead, according to Australian news affiliate exclusive.
  • The Guardian lists which countries are important to COP15.
  • South Africa Pledges 42% reduction by 2025 at COP15.
  • Public belief in global warming cools, according to polls.
  • Participants declare COP15 to be historic opportunity.
  • Conference begins with high hopes. Until recently, China and India had refused to debate commitment on reducing man-made emissions.

Additional Resources

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