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World Resources Institute: Reflections from Copenhagen: The Accord and the Way Forward

December 29, 2009

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Jennifer Morgan of the World Resouces Insitute reviews the main result from Copenhagen, an Accord that looks very different than what has come before.

The Copenhagen meeting broke new ground in a number of rather historic ways. Never before have heads of state from nations in Asia, Latin America, Africa and North America negotiated an agreement, let alone one so complex as this. Although not specifically planned, it became clear when leaders arrived that their negotiators had been unable to outline even the key choices they needed to make, forcing heads to either engage in a much more detailed fashion than expected or accept no outcome. Luckily they decided on the former, wrenching the decision away from a rather dysfunctional global diplomatic establishment which was unable to come to closure on any of the core issues.

The result of this engagement was an agreement that looks very different than what has come before. The world has shifted from a period in which a limited set of countries were taking limited actions without a stated long-term goal under a Protocol which had some good provisions but also a number of flaws, to a period in which almost all nations are committed to actions that are hopefully significant, with an explicit goal, under an Accord which right now leaves many many questions unresolved. This shift, along with the uncertainty of what it really means, has resulted in many governments and observer commentaries about the turn of events towards the end of the meeting. This piece focuses on what was agreed.

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