Globally, individual nations have volunteered greenhouse gas reduction targets in anticipation of the Paris meetings. Unlike Copenhagen, where calls for mandatory reductions and transfer payments to the developing world caused the collapse of any potential agreements, the world community seems more realistic as it approaches the Paris meetings.
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I don’t believe for a second that we are on the brink of global destruction. We are on the brink of a global re-distribution and whole scale re-balancing of global goods and bads. But we have been there before and survived.
As we head to Paris, the expectations are profoundly lower. The national commitments that countries are putting on the table do not add up to nearly enough to keep us within 2 degrees; instead the plan is to come back every five years and hopefully do better. … It is still mathematically possible to stay within 2 degrees, but the odds of actually doing so seem to be receding by the month.
All of the pledges made in Paris will be voluntary. However, countries have not always fulfilled their pledges in the past, and it isn’t obvious that this agreement is going to cause countries to behave very differently in the future.
The climate issue seems to generate a high level of ideologically based politics, emotional rhetoric and political symbolism. It is time to move past symbols to pragmatism and political reality.
In December 2009, world leaders convened at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. The Copenhagen Accord, presented at the conclusion, acknowledged the threat of global warming, but many felt the nonbinding agreement would do little to slow the pace of climate change. In this series of essays and interviews, Earth Institute scientists and representatives offer their insights on the conference and its legacy.
This week, China and India agreed to add their names to the list of countries officially “supporting” the Copenhagen Accord. Athough both countries had previously submitted emission reduction commitments to be included in the Accord, agreeing to be listed is a gesture of official endorsement. In their letters to the Secretariat both India and China… read more
Nearly 100 people including several UN ambassadors, corporate executives, foundation leaders and key representatives from NGOs and academia gathered at Columbia University to attend a brainstorm session on a way forward after December’s Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. Led by Earth Institute Director Jeff Sachs, the agenda covered topics including improvements to the United Nations… read more
Can we find positives from the United Nations Summit on climate change? Even President Obama admits that disappointment is justified, although the Commander in Chief claims a non-binding accord was better than a complete collapse of the negotiations. Jeffrey Sachs, fearless leader of the Earth Institute, adamantly opposed such victory proclamation from the President, for… read more
Two years of climate change negotiations have now ended in a farce in Copenhagen. Rather than grappling with complex issues, President Barack Obama decided instead to declare victory with a vague statement of principles agreed with four other countries. The remaining 187 were handed a fait accompli , which some accepted and others denounced. After the fact, the United Nations has argued that the document was generally accepted, though for most on a take-it-or-leave-it basis […]