UN Copenhagen Conference to Discuss Global Warming


On Dec. 7 through Dec. 18 the United Nations will be holding the 15th Climate Change Conference (COP15) in Copenhagen, Denmark to discuss the current global warming crisis.

Approximately 15,000 participants from over 192 countries representing governments and businesses will be attending.

The global warming crisis has been put on the backburner of many countries. In the United States alone, political efforts have been directed towards the dismal economy, health care crisis and the War on Terror.

The effort to decrease the use of the world’s fossil fuels is a global effort; no one country will be able to solve the problem. The Danish government, host of the conference, states “the task [to decrease fossil fuels] is daunting— but our mission is clear. We need to agree on an ambitious, global agreement in Copenhagen that meets the challenge set by science.”

Dr. DuBay, AP environmental teacher who is passionate about limiting fossil fuels, concurs. “I hope COP15 sees the major countries of the world agree to take aggressive action to reduce greenhouses gases, reduce deforestation, and significantly encourage alternative renewable energy resources.”

Yvo de Boer, UN climate chief, reports that he hopes the conference will reach an agreement on four main political essentials, rather than focusing on every minute detail.

The four main topics that will be addressed are as followed: first, how much are the industrialized countries willing to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases? Secondly, how much are major developing countries such as China and India willing to do to limit the growth of their emissions? Thirdly, how is the help needed by developing countries to engage in reducing their emissions and adapting to the impacts of climate change going to be financed? Finally, how is that money going to be managed?

Boer says that if these topics are addressed in Copenhagen he will be happy. The global climate committees will be one step closer to creating a new, effective treaty. This new treaty will replace the Kyoto Protocol which was drafted in 1997 and made law in 2005.

Boer has put a lot of confidence in Barack Obama’s ability to persuade China and India to sign the treaty. If the United States persuades these two countries to sign the treaty, Boer thinks that the treaty could go into effect as early as June 2010.

China is most likely going to agree to a treaty because of the effect that global warming has on their country. If the world does not limit emissions, China is likely to see a ten percent drop in grain production, which in consequence would decrease the potential crop production five to thirty percent by 2030.

Although COP15 seems like a step in the right direction, some top scientists hope that the effort fails. James Hansen, head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, says that the effort to fix the Kyoto Protocol is a bad idea; it would be better to start from scratch because any negotiation that comes out of COP15 would be flawed.

Hansen’s biggest obstacle is politicians. In an interview with Guardian, Hansen said, “”We don’t have a leader who is able to grasp it and say what is really needed. Instead we are trying to continue business as usual.”

To politicians, the carbon-market, a way to curb carbon emissions by providing economic incentives, is the solution to slow global warming.

However, Hansen states that “[T]his [a carbon-market] is analogous to the indulgences that the Catholic Church sold in the Middle Ages. The bishops collected lots of money and the sinners got redemption. Both parties liked that arrangement despite its absurdity. That is exactly what’s happening.”

He continued, “We’ve got the developed countries who want to continue more or less business as usual and then these developing countries who want money and that is what they can get through offsets [sold through the carbon markets].”

Despite a difference of opinions between Boer and Hansen, COP15 is aimed to reduce emissions on a global level and slow down global warming effects. DuBay concluded, “Climate change is a global problem that requires a global solution.”


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