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Was the Copenhagen summit COP15 a success?

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Introduction

Was the Copenhagen summit COP15 a success? COP15 was a gathering of political leaders to agree on an accord to combat climate change. The UNFCCC agreed to approve the draft accord on 18th December 2009. The first earth summit took place in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, 4 years after the IPCC was established. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was agreed on which committed countries to preventing "dangerous climate change". Shortly after the IPCC established a strong link between man-made emissions and the rising global temperature, the Kyoto Protocol was agreed under the UNFCCC in 1997. This was a breakthrough for the battle against climate change and also determined the first and it seems the only emission reduction targets. The protocol was finally made legally binding in 2005. The most recent earth summit before COP15 was the Ponzan Climate conference in Poland in 2008. Unfortunately the progress on negotiations was slow mainly due to the elections going on in the USA. Within this time span the IPCC made four assessments, and evidence of the effects of climate change started occurring in the form of melting glaciers, severe drought and heat waves, and hurricane Katrina. COP15 was meant to be a leap forward in the combat against climate change, with bigger, complex plans for a low-carbon future. ...read more.

Middle

There are already schemes operating in major deforesting countries such as Brazil and Indonesia, and international aid will have a significantly positive impact on the effectiveness of these schemes. A Technology Mechanism to accelerate the development of technology to support adaptation and mitigation was also mentioned. This is particularly crucial in respect of those developing countries that are already feeling the effects of climate change and need faster advances in technology in order adapt to them. However, there is no specific detail of where the funds will come from or guarantee that they will transpire. Many feel Gorden Brown, who has decided to use the already existing UK overseas aid budget to fund the CGCF (thereby using the same funds "twice"), has already exploited the lack of specificity. This means that part of the financial aid that would otherwise combat ongoing poverty and vulnerability to natural disasters is reduced by the amount that must now be committed to mitigating climate change - recession-induced penny-pinching. Apart from that, the deadline is far too far away and the budget barely a fifth of what is needed for LEDCs to cope with climate change according to WWF. Inflation is also likely to devalue the fund considerably by 2020. ...read more.

Conclusion

With this in mind, COP15 has still committed no emission reduction goals anywhere in the treaty apart from "recognition" of the need to keep the global temperature rise below 2C. Finally, the USA were fully behind the COP15 agreement but still turned up with very low ambitions, prepared to reduce emission by just 4% below 1990 levels compared to the EU's promise of a 20% reduction below 1990 levels. This sort of dedication was also applied to the Kyoto Protocol when the USA, who was at the time responsible for 25% of global emissions, pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol saying it was flawed. This participation of the USA was initially crucial to the ratification of the treaty but luckily Russia did sign bringing the reductions quota up to the required level and the treaty was able to go ahead. Only developed countries were required to commit to emission reduction goals, and big developing countries (and big emitters) such as India, China and Brazil did not have to ratify. COP15 did succeed in bringing all nations rich and poor together with the one subject in mind and LEDCs were also required to show some ambition towards emission cuts assuming financial help from developed countries. However, as mentioned before, there were no binding agreements over any emission goals. ...read more.

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