United Nations leaders have acknowledged the disappointment felt by much of the world at the rather meagre outcome of the 15th International Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, but remain adamant that the summit has taken climate change politics to a new and prominent position.
In a statement issued at the close of the conference, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “This accord cannot be everything that everyone hoped for, but it is an essential beginning.”
Britain and the United States were pushing for a legally binding agreement that held the countries responsible for meeting targets on ecological commitments. But US insistence on ways of monitoring the agreement, including satellite surveillance, was vetoed by China who said that this was a cover for international espionage.
The conference was saved from a complete failure to make a deal on climate change in the early hours of the morning after it had finished, by the drafting of a political agreement called the Copenhagen Accord. 119 world leaders made pledges (financial and otherwise) to enact this agreement, which recognizes the scientific view that an increase in global temperature below two degrees is required to stave off the worst effects of climate change.
The Copenhagen Accord’s 31 January deadline for the submission of these pledges has now passed, with an absence of strengthened commitments. “Supporters of the Accord have failed to make emissions pledges which are strong enough to avert dangerous climate change,” said Bernhard Obermayr, of Greenpeace. “The Accord’s 31 January deadline was no more than a cynical PR exercise allowing governments to recycle existing pledges and dress them up as effective action. It is the start of the Copenhagen ‘greenwash’.”
Founder of the Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences Fazlun Khalid said: “Copenhagen was about moderation. This required the rich nations particularly to tighten their belts whilst the poor loosened theirs ever so gently. It was the height of optimism to expect nearly two hundred nation states to come to some agreement concerning this in a matter of days. The victims are planet earth whose resources we steal from and future generations whose legacy we appropriate.”
The next UN Climate Change Conference will take place towards the end of 2010 in Mexico City.