Copenhagen- What happened? Well, The G77 developing countries staged a walkout accusing rich countries of blocking legally binding emissions reductions. US-led wealthy countries wanted close "monitoring and verification" of both progress toward emissions targets and the use of funds transferred from the rich countries to the developing nations to help them cope with climate change and to leapfrog to green energy production. There were other issues, and in the end, a face-saving US proposed initiative called the 'Copenhagen Accord' formed the centre-piece of a "deal" which was not binding in any way, and which many countries objected to.
The co-signatories to the accord agreed to "take note" of the need to keep global warming to 2 degrees centigrade or less. Some scientists consider this already a dangerous level which would see a sea-level rise of six meters(SMH: Two degrees to disaster).
Update Feb 22 2010: UN Climate Chief Yvo de Boer said he will step down July 1. In an AP interview last month, de Boer acknowledged that the summit left him deeply disheartened. "After Copenhagen I was very depressed. I was depressed for a few weeks." (story)
Note that just before the Copenhagen conference, Professor Corinne Le Quere, lead scientist and lead author on a study for Global Carbon Project just published in the journal Nature Geoscience told BBC News: "Based on our knowledge of recent trends and the time it takes to change energy infrastructure, I think that the Copenhagen conference next month is our last chance to stabilize at 2C in a smooth and organized way. . .
If the agreement is too weak or if the commitments are not respected, it's not two and a half or three degrees that we will get, it's five or six - that's the path that we are on right now."
Friend of the Earth said "Corporate polluters and other special interests have such overwhelming influence that rich country governments are willing to agree only to fig leaf solutions." (more climate activists' comments)
Christopher Flavin, President of Worldwatch Institute said, "Both in its ambition and in the weakness of its framework- an accord rather than a legally binding protocol- Copenhagen represented a significant step backward from the climate treaty process that began in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and was strengthened with the Kyoto Protocol which came into force earlier this decade. And because the accord was crafted by a handful of new and old economic powers, many saw it as a breakdown of the U.N. process and its need for consensus among 193 nations. . ." (Escape From Copenhagen- Final)
Joss Garman of Greenpeace blogged: "This 'deal' is beyond bad. It contains no legally binding targets and no indication of when or how they will come about. There is not even a declaration that the world will aim to keep global temperature rises below 2 degrees C. Instead, leaders merely recognize the science behind that vital threshold, as if that were enough to prevent us crossing it. . ." (Historic Failure That Will Live in Infamy)
James Hansen, the world's leading climate scientist: summit failure may be better for the planet- (watch interview)
See Grist's review of world press reaction to the Copenhagen Conference: All Over The Map
"The city of Copenhagen is a climate crime scene tonight, with the guilty men and women fleeing to the airport in shame. .." Greenpeace famously blogged. But actually , world leaders were fleeing for the airports ahead of snowstorms on both sides of the north atlantic at once; Obama arrived in DC as the blizzard began there, in Europe a record cold wave accompanied the snow, at one point all the airports were down and 5 Eurostar trains were stuck in the Chunnel. Waves of record cold and snow are hitting China too, with temperatures hitting the minus twenties fahrenheit.
More on the extreme winter cold 2009-2010 on the climate chaos page
Copenhagen Conference 2009 on Climate Change- highlights
You can jump around as you choose in the playlist; if you just let it run, it will play each clip consecutively. If the clip stops to rebuffer a lot, just pause the video and let it buffer up ahead. (To watch videos in full screen mode: click the video currently playing; this will launch a new window with the same video at Youtube. Just below the logo on the lower right is a full screen button.)
- WorldWildlife Fund is running coverage of the Conference here
- Democracy Now is broadcasting live from Copenhagen during the conference- watch the shows at Democracy Now
- Al Gore tried his best to stir up the COP15 Conference - watch the speech here