Monday, December 21, 2009

Copenhagen Over, Now What?

UPDATED - 12/21/09, 5:40 PM

Many of the world's leaders have now returned from Copenhagen's climate summit talks -- to some it was a real disappointment, to others it was a start.  This was supposed to be the opportunity talked about for over a year, when the world would come together and make binding agreements to reduce emissions to levels that would safeguard the planet.  They were also to make agreements to protect and restore forests, a huge necessity for reducing greenhouse gases.  Instead, as is so nicely outlined at The Daily Beast, politics reigned.

That said, the NRDC has some thoughtful information (here) about what happened and how we can all think about the summit, including a list of what really was successfully accomplished and what needs to be done to build on the summit.  In the NRDC summary:

  1. "Heads of Government from key Countries are engaged" -- not just a few heads of state and world leaders showed up.  Instead, nearly all of them, which underscores the importance of the summit.
  2. "All major emitting countries will have to commit to take action and solidify them in the international agreement" -- while we didn't get written how's in their commitment at the summit, those how's are due the end of January 2010.  So, you can guess that there will be a lot of phone calls, e-mails, and tele/video-conferencing over the next month as countries work with each other to come in with equal and just commitments ... not to mention the strategic PR that's going to be part of whatever is committed.
  3. "We will have a system to regularly know whether or not countries are making progress towards their commitments" -- another forthcoming.
  4. "We secured real commitments to finance for investing in efforts in developing countries to reduce deforestation emissions, and adapt to the impacts of global warming" -- yahooee! that we could make headway on deforestation issues.  But the whole adaptation thing, while a devastating reality, just makes me shake my head that we have to do any of that at all.

Sitting here at home, one can only wonder "what can one person do to help keep things moving forward?"
  • You can continue to do your part to choose products and behaviors that would lessen your family's impact on contributing to greenhouse gases on this planet.  I truly believe solutions start at home.
  • You can influence your friends to make the same climate friendly choices you do.
  • You can write your local, state, and federal government officials to implement regulations that would have the U.S. set the example in greenhouse gas reduction.  Any reduction the U.S. does will IMMENSELY help the situation because the U.S. is such a heavy emissions polluter and purchases such a large amount of products (i.e., beef, oil, non-certified paper, etc.) that contribute to greenhouse gases in a major way.   You can also ask that the U.S. take the lead in continuing talks with countries, one by one, so that they come together with the U.S. and other leading emissions-reducing countries to work together to reverse climate change.
One person, each of us, can make a difference here by showing that we still care about these issues that are slowly changing the world.

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