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The Copenhagen Accord: “They’re not done yet. Neither are we”

December 20, 2009

Although Barack Obama calls the deal made at the last minute between China, South Africa, India, Brazil and the US a “meaningful agreement” many are calling it an outright failure. Al Jazeera reports:

The Associated Press gives further details on the elements of the Copenhagen accord, which “recognizes” the scientific case for preventing temperatures from rising to no more than 2 degrees but did not contain commitments to emissions reductions to achieve that goal. The key points are:
(emphasis mine)

Greenhouse Gas Emissions:
*The deal does not commit any nation to emissions cuts beyond a general acknowledgment that global temperatures should be held along the lines agreed to by leading nations in July.
*The already agreed-upon emissions cuts fall far short of action needed to avoid potentially dangerous effects of climate change.

*Wealthy nations will raise $100 billion a year by 2020 to help poorer nations cope with the effects of climate change, such as droughts and floods. This is contingent on a broader agreement, including some kind of oversight to verify China’s emissions of greenhouse gases.
*Short-term funding of roughly $30 billion over three years beginning in 2010 to help developing countries adapt to climate change and shift to clean energy.

You can find many despondent responses to the Accord, but I really like this letter, signed by Oxfam, Greenpeace, Amnesty International and others which emphasized hope:

Despite overwhelming scientific evidence and massive popular support from citizens in countries North and South, world leaders chose national political self-interest over the fate of future generations and failed to resolve the issues blocking the road towards a just outcome. While this deal cannot be judged as a success, it is impossible to be without hope.

The global climate movement – more diverse than ever before – stands united in the face of tonight’s disappointing news. This weekend we are mounting an unprecedented response, with joint messaging appearing on the global public websites of our partners, to ensure world leaders know we are unimpressed with their lack of real progress and failure to deliver a real deal.

The world’s leaders still have a chance to get it right. They must realize that we expect, and will not accept, anything less.

They’re not done yet. Neither are we.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Laura permalink
    December 20, 2009 10:36 PM

    Thanks for this – saves me from having to find out some other way. While this was disappointing for me to hear, I guess I wasn’t as convinced as some others that this conference would produce truly necessary steps toward impeding the process by which this world will change to cause harm to those most vulnerable.

    So yes, it was disappointing. Yes, ideally I expected better. But this is one aspect of change. Maybe this is a lesson that we cannot always rely on those placed in power to make the changes we need for us.

    So what aren’t we done with? Lobbying them to change? Writing to our state representatives? Surely these are some ways to enact change, but to focus solely on these strategies is to limit the vastness of human potential. I am not the biggest fan of the “vote with your dollar” ideology, but here it seems appropriate – we can hold corporations in check here and internationally by telling them what we expect and need through the money we spend. Maybe I’m preaching to the choir here, but we can opt out of wasteful systems like the corn, meat and fish industries, and say no to agrobusiness. Though this may not be a viable option for every person or every family, I would argue it is more viable than some people want us to believe.

    So yeah! They’re not done yet. Maybe they’ll never be done. I can’t control them. I agree that what’s more important here is that I am not done, that we are not done, and I can control myself.

  2. December 22, 2009 11:05 AM

    My dad spent the week in Copenhagen for the climate change talks, and he wrote about why he thought there were NOT a failure. You can check it out if you want at

    I love your stuff on Amplify, keep writing 🙂

    • happybodies permalink
      December 23, 2009 3:09 AM

      Hey Dan, thanks for the link. It is really important to keep in mind how far we have come with this deal and to celebrate it. We should also be celebrating the huge amount of involvement from the civil sector, especially youth!, globally and the immense global network created through and around cop15. Unfortunately, with so many already suffering, and the deadline before the change becomes irreversible getting closer and closer, I start getting impatient, and frankly, pretty stressed out. We still have to view these victories in light of the people who are struggling intimately with climate change and environmental degradation, and hold ourselves accountable to them, not politics.

      Also, thanks! I’m really enjoying blogging at Amplify and the other bloggers there!

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