The results of this conference should not be taken in isolation, but should be seen as part of a continuum of international negotiations on global climate change. The COP15 convention in Copenhagen was pegged by the UNFCCC in Kyoto to be a focal point and deadline for binding emissions agreements. However, political negotiations are  exceedingly slow and unpredictable. It can be difficult to determine when and what actions will be the tipping point for significant improvements in climate change policies on a global scale. Whether we like it or not political negotiations in Copenhagen did not meet the intended goals of the convention.

This is incredibly disconcerting considering all of the heart wrenching stories that were made by representatives from low lying island nations and African nations vulnerable to the effects of Climate Change.

COP15 has not sufficiently provisioned for mitigation and adaptation

COP15 has not sufficiently provisioned for managing global climate change

Unfortunately, no matter how morally compelling it is for countries to have binding emissions standards it is extremely difficult politically to reach an international agreement where all countries commit to binding emissions. This is not excuse for the meager results of the conference, but it is an explanation.

The world has limited time to act, but thankfully these negotiations do not all rest on one conference. The current negotiations are a culmination of past conferences and meetings of the parties. Despite numerous unresolved problems, there is still an opportunity to achieve substantial results next December in the COP16 in Mexico City. The most important concept to understand is that change needs to be done at all different scales.

States have the opportunity to develop holistic management that incorporates climate change into political dialogue and international agreements outside of the convention. For example, multilateral negotiations within other contexts like the G8 summits have the potential to produce improvements.

Also, domestic law is also an area where large improvements need to be made. In the US, the climate change legislation has been incredibly important in influencing the debate within the Copenhagen convention. It is critical that strong climate change legislation passes in June so that the US can negotiate with firm domestic laws already in place.

Finally and most importantly, every person must make improvements within their own lives, because this is a global problem that effects all different scales of human interaction. Transitioning to lower carbon lifestyles and demanding political action by our leaders are essential steps to keep the momentum going for a successful Convention in Mexico next year.

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18 Responses to “UN Convention negotiations in Copenhagen: A failure or just part of a Continuum?”

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