Understanding the Copenhagen Summit 2009

There was sooo much hula hoo regarding Climate change talks held in Copenhagen last year. Environmentalists were hoping for big publicity and even bigger changes to be anounced through it. None of that happened. I was on vacation in India and all I heard was that it was an utter failure. So what exactly did happen there and what went wrong? I decided to read a few reports and get my own summary.

Here’s the official report and the key points from it:
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change: Copenhagen Accord

  1. The greatest challenge of our times. Has to be fought with principle of common but differentiated responsiblities (quite an oxymoron!)
  2. Recognize the scintific view that increase in global temperature should be below 2 degrees Celcius (with respect to what?)
  3. Stress the need to establish a comprehensive adaptation program with internation support
  4. Agree deep cuts in global emmissions are required. Should cooperate in peaking of global and national emissions as soon as possible.
  5. Agree that timeframe for peaking will be longer in developing countries.
  6. Developed countries need to provide adequate, predictable and sustainable financial resources to support impementation in developing countries (agree!). This is close to USD30 billion for the period 2010-2012
  7. Annex 1 parties will need to start as soon as Jan 31st 2010 and will be monitored.
  8. Non-Annex I countries will submit mitigation plans by 31st Jan that will be reviewed.
  9. LDCs and small island countries may take action voluntarily (how does that help anyone including them?)
  10. Realize the crucial role played by forest deforestration and degradation. To be done by mechanisms such as REDD-plus. (Reduce Emissions from Deforestration and Degradation)
  11. Funding sources will be many and diverse. A significant amount should flow through Copenhagen Green Climate Fund.
  12. Technology council, planning council etc is also needed
  13. Assessment of the implementation of this Accord to be completed by 2015 (now I understand why it was not a success!!)

Background on the summit:

For years, we have been spinning our wheels on what’s called by many the Rio-Kyoto-Copenhagen road to nowhere. In started in 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and then extended in Kyoto 13 years later. The latest one was held last Dec in Copenhagen. Each has promised to be a success and ended up worse than its predecessor.

So after a few searches I found out that the below 2 degree celcius refers to: the industrialized nations plan that would mandate cuts in carbon emissions in order to keep average global temperatures from rising any higher than 2°C above preindustrial levels.

But to bring these changes require massive efforts and it is this that’s causing a freeze in action. Carbon taxes would lead to gas/petrol being very expensive ($35 a gallon). Which govt. will remain in power if it ever took suc a measure?

But one thing is for sure; a lot can be improved and changed just by improving our habits; driving better, consuming less, wasting less. These are in our control and can be done. That’s what sustainability is all about..so let’s join in.

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