Over two weeks of talks, almost two years of planning and some 45,000 people took part in the UN climate summit in Copenhagen - the vast majority convinced of the need for a new global agreement on climate change.
Why then did talks break down in the final hours of the Summit and did the endless meetings achieve anything concrete?
While a promise to limit global warming to a 2C temperature was agreed upon by the majority of the international leaders, this agreement is not binding and does not set new greenhouse-gas reduction targets. Instead, countries are to set their own emission-reduction commitments, which would not be legally binding
Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, and EU chiefs said the deal was a first step but acknowledged there was much further to go to get the ambitious and legally-binding treaty countries such as the UK have been pushing for.
Britain is pushing hard for a legally binding treaty with clear targets to be laid out for the international community to commit to; however this will require another meeting of world leaders.
Through the Children’s Climate Forum the world’s youth demanded of world leaders a strong and fair deal to fix the climate. In too many ways, they failed us and the entire global community by missing the opportunity in Copenhagen to reach an ambitious global consensus on the issue.
We had hoped that Copenhagen would be the turning point in the fight against climate change by getting all countries to sign up to a deal which would reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, provide financial help for poorer countries to cope with climate change and help reduce the destruction of forests around the world.
It was tremendously exciting in the weeks leading up to the conference to see governments come out with pledges for emissions reductions, and the news that world leaders would attend the conference raised the profile of climate change as a global issue to an all-time high.
The ‘Copenhagen Accord’, as it is being called, is disappointing in so many ways – it does very little compared to what we wanted the conclusion of COP15 to do. However, although it doesn’t live up to the expectations nor the needs of vulnerable children around the world, it DOES mean that $100 billion of climate-related aid will flow to developing countries by 2020. Without such an accord, there would have been yet another delay to getting this aid to the people who are being hit hardest by climate change.
Nonetheless, the weakness of the deal in terms of combating the root causes of climate change means that we all need to redouble our efforts to get our governments to act on global emissions in 2010.
As a follow-up to the Children’s Climate Forum, we are thinking hard about how we are going to maintain the tremendous pressure for action that was built up for Copenhagen. Hopefully our efforts and those of numerous other organisations and individuals will lead to the deal we needed in 2009 being reached in 2010.
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