Sisters of St. Joseph of CarondeletDecember 15, 2017

Earth Concerns News

The Copenhagen Climate Summit: Two Perspectives by Sister Clare Pelkey, CSJ


The following are two perspectives on the results of the Copenhagen Climate Summit.

The results of the Copenhagen Climate Summit were not all for which many people hoped, but the meeting was a very significant step forward. Representatives from 193 countries, including leaders from 119 of those countries, sat down for in-depth talks about the need to act against climate change. That number includes more world leaders who have ever gathered for any one issue in the history of the United Nations.

In the end, the participants approved a global-climate accord by a margin of 188-5, with countries such as Cuba and Sudan opposed. The United Nations considers that kind of result a consensus. Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resource Defense Council, calls the accord “a win by a landslide.” The countries of the world are now united around the need to act to keep average global temperatures from rising more than two degrees centigrade as the Copenhagen Accord provides. The world's two largest carbon emitters, the United States and China, pledged real action to curb climate change. President Obama said the United States will reduce its carbon emissions by about 17 percent below the 2005 levels by the year 2020. Premier Wen Jiabao said China would cut its carbon intensity by at least 40 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. Similar pledges to curb or mitigate carbon releases were made by other countries, including India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa, each of which promised action for meeting specific goals.
 
In addition, the leaders promised to set up a global fund which will begin immediately and ramp up to $100 billion a year by 2020 in order to help the world's poorest countries to cope with the ravages of climate change.
 
Climate change is the single greatest environmental ill of our time. Few expected the Copenhagen meeting to present us with a tidy solution to this daunting challenge, and, indeed, it did not. However, the summit has given us an urgently needed start down the path of coordinated global action. (adapted from a letter from Frances Beinecke on the web)
 
A citizen’s movement, 350.org, begun by several concerned young people, that quickly spread across the globe, had a tremendous impact on the U.N. delegates. These individuals repeatedly told the organizers how much this movement allowed people to understand the scientific issues at stake; the movement altered both the tone and the substance of the negotiations.
 
Let us pray that the critical first steps taken at the Copenhagen Summit will continue to reap the fruit of all those persons involved at the grassroots level (through 350.org) to let the world leaders know we are aware and watching the actions of those we have chosen to lead our countries.