In order to talk about the problems which have been discussed and the solutions which have been found during the 2009 Copenhagen climate change summit, first we have to present a few aspects regarding the Kyoto protocol.
The Kyoto protocol is a protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC or FCCC), aimed at fighting global warming. The FCCC is an international environmental treaty with the goal of achieving “stabilization of greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.”
The protocol was initially adopted on 11 December 1997 in Kyoto, Japan and entered into force on 16 February 2005. As of July 2010, 191 states have signed and ratified the protocol. Under the protocol, 37 countries commit themselves to a reduction of four greenhouse gases and two groups of gases produced by them, and all member countries give general commitments. It is also important to mention the fact that the protocol allows several “flexible mechanisms”, such as emissions trading, the clean development mechanism and joint implementation to allow countries to meet their gas emissions limitations.
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Therefore, what is the Copenhagen climate change summit and what is its connection to the Kyoto protocol?
This is a United Nations climate change conference which took place between 7 and 18 December 2009 in order for the environment ministers and officials to draft a successor to the Kyoto protocol. The meeting, also known as COP15, was the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP) in a long series of meetings that trace their origins to the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, which aimed at coordinating international action against climate change.
Who participated at the summit and who were the main players?
At the summit participated officials, heads of state and governments, advisers, diplomats, campaigners and journalists from the 192 countries that have signed the climate change convention. In what concerns the main players, the developing countries such as India and China, emphasized the fact that it should be the responsibility of wealthy industrialized nations such as UK and US to give a clear example of cutting the greenhouse gases emissions.
Which were the main points?
The main issue was that of “burden-sharing”. More precisely, the scientists stated that, by 2050, the world must cut its emissions by 80% compared with 1990 levels to limit global warming to a 2 degrees C average rise. More than that, the world must stop the growth of greenhouse gas emissions and start making them fall around the year 2015 to 2020.
Another important issue was money. The developed countries must be aware of the fact that they have to give hundreds of billions of dollars to poorer nations, in order to help them achieve these standards. But the issue gains in gravity if we take into consideration the recent economic crisis.
Which were the results of this meeting?
- The participants recognized the great challenge of climate change, the need for an urgent programme to fight this problem and the need to establish a comprehensive adaptation programme including international support for the developing countries. They also recognized officially the scientific view that the increase in global temperature should be below 2 degrees C in order to prevent a natural disaster worldwide.
- They agree to the fact that deep cuts in global emissions are absolutely necessarily. However, these cuts should be made taken taking into consideration the possibilities of each and every country. We have to understand the fact that, for poorer countries, problems such as poverty eradication and economic development are far more important.
- They recognize the fact that the developed countries shall provide adequate, predictable and sustainable financial resources, technology and capacity building to the less developed countries.
- They acknowledge the crucial role of reducing emission from deforestation and forest degradation.
- They decided to create a fund, called the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund, in order to finance all the initiatives mentioned above and a Technology Mechanism to accelerate the technology development, as well as its transfer to the poorer countries.
- They decided that the implementation of the Accord shall be completed by the end of 2015.
In my opinion, this meeting was a success, especially because those who were present, the people who can actually make a change, finally understand the gravity of the problem the humankind is facing. The problem remains: how are they going to implement these measures, when most of them are afraid of their impact on the economic development of the country? As Upton Sinclair once said:
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”
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