The agreement finally reached by world leaders at Copenhagen, which sets the first emission limits for India and China and new reduction targets for the United States, is being hailed as an ‘unprecedented breakthrough’. But it doesn’t take a climate expert to see that this agreement, which is not legally binding in any way, falls far short of what many people hoped would be a real way out of the climate crisis.
Many had hopes that the U.N Conference on climate change, which has been convened in Copenhagen since December 7th, would reveal nations willingness to set agressive goals for reducing greenhouse gas emission in nations known as heavy polluters, and offer up mutually beneficial solutions to developing nations that would encourage them to preserve their forests and keep their emissions in check as they continue to pursue industrialzation.
Although it is encouraging to see that the United States, which refused to adopt the commitments of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, did commit to curbing greenhouse gases, the agreement was still vague on some of the most important details, such as basic information about how much money would be provided as aid to enable poor nations adapt to the changing climate and employ low-emission fuels.
In a recent press release, Oxfam International criticized the deal as weak and more hype than help. Jeremy Hobbs, Executive Director of Oxfam International said:
“The deal is a triumph of spin over substance. It recognizes the need to keep warming below 2 degrees but does not commit to do so. It kicks back the big decisions on emissions cuts and fudges the issue of climate cash.
Millions of people around the world do not want to see their hopes for a fair, binding and ambitious deal die in Copenhagen. Leaders need to get back round the table in early 2010 take the hard decisions they copped out of in Copenhagen.”
Although the agreement gives other nations until February to sign on with specific emission commitments, many are skeptical that any developing nations would even consider adding their names to this aspirational document, given that it provides no guarantees that the necessary financial aid will be provided, or that the aid will be distributed correctly to the public officials that need it.
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