Climate Summit Ends with Accord, Little Real Progress

The Copenhagen talks on climate change wrapped up Sunday with a whimper rather than a bang, by most accounts. A “Copenhagen Accord” document was produced by the U.S., China and other parties at the conference, putting down on paper commitments by nations to act individually to combat global warming. The plan does not include firm targets for industrialized or developing nations’ greenhouse gas emission reductions, over either the short or long term.

The accord does provide a system to monitor and report progress on international pollution-reduction goals, with hundreds of billions of dollars moving from wealthy nations to less-developed countries. A goal of limiting the global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2050 was set. The 2-degree target was set as a threshold to forestall dangerous global weather events including floods, droughts, mudslides, sandstorms and rising seas, although how this would be achieved was not outlined.

The accord did not set a goal for a binding international treaty. Months, if not years, of additional negotiations are anticipated before internationally enforceable provisions are developed.

New York Times articleCopenhagen Accord