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Guardian: The Road from Copenhagen

Author: Ed Miliband
December 20, 2009

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British Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Miliband discusses the progress made at Copenhagen.

Where do we go from here? That is the question we are all asking ourselves after Copenhagen. We have to begin by understanding the lessons of what went wrong but also recognise the achievements that it secured.

This was a chaotic process dogged by procedural games. Thirty leaders left their negotiators at 3am on Friday, the last night to haggle over the short Danish text that became the accord. To get a deal we needed urgent progress because time was running out. Five hours later, we had got to the third paragraph.

The procedural wrangling was, in fact, a cover for points of serious, substantive disagreement. The vast majority of countries, developed and developing, believe that we will only construct a lasting accord that protects the planet if all countries' commitments or actions are legally binding. But some leading developing countries currently refuse to countenance this. That is why we did not secure an agreement that the political accord struck in Copenhagen should lead to a legally binding outcome.

We did not get an agreement on 50% reductions in global emissions by 2050 or on 80% reductions by developed countries. Both were vetoed by China, despite the support of a coalition of developed and the vast majority of developing countries. Indeed, this is one of the straws in the wind for the future: the old order of developed versus developing has been replaced by more interesting alliances.

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