What do organizers hope to accomplish at the upcoming (December 7-18, 2009) United Nations Climate Change Conference being held in Copenhagen?
—F. Rojas, Oakland, CA
The upcoming COP15 meeting in Denmark—so named because it is the 15th such international gathering of the Conference of the Parties (COP) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change—is the world’s next big chance to take decisive multi-lateral action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions substantially enough to ward off cataclysmic climate change.
Negotiators from all over the globe hope to come to terms on a binding agreement regarding emissions reductions that both developed and developing nations can agree to. The stakes are high: This conference represents the final step in negotiations years in the making—and the results could chart a course toward success or failure in human efforts to control the carbon beast we set free in the industrial revolution.
Officially, the stated goal of COP15, according to United Nations organizers, is “to stabilize the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at a level that prevents dangerous man-made climate changes.” They add that “this stabilization must occur in such a way as to give the ecosystems the opportunity to adapt naturally” without compromising food safety or hindering sustainable social and economic development around the world. Organizers, delegates and a wide range of other participants—some 10,000 people are expected to attend—are still holding out hope for the establishment of an ambitious, legally binding global emissions reduction agreement to take effect beginning in 2012. That is when initial commitments made under the Kyoto Protocol, an earlier international climate treaty that the U.S. refused to join, expire.