Personal tools
You are here: Home Copenhagen Climate Talks - December 7-18, 2009

Copenhagen Climate Talks - December 7-18, 2009

UPDATE: Tentative deal climate deal worked out between President Obama and leaders of other key nations.  See the text of the agreement here.

Copenhagen, Denmark was the host of the 15th United Nations Climate Change Conference, from December 7-18th. The convention brought together delegates from 192 countries to negotiate an international response to climate change.

WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE CONFERENCE AND DEAL? We would like to hear from you. Send us your thoughts via email to [email protected]

Check out videos, photos and read the report backs from our team.

Jayme Montgomery-Baker (League of Young Voters Education Fund, Green For All Academy Fellow) joined us in a special briefing in the Bella Center to share some thoughts with President Obama and the attending heads of state on the role of communities of color and of low-income in the conversation about and solutions to the climate crisis.

Chat with Green Economy Builder from the U.S.

12/18 Video Blog: Copenhagen on last day of climate talks

Green For All Academy fellow Jayme Montgomery Baker with League of Young Voters made this video about the protests at the Bella Center yesterday, the site of the international climate agreement. Civil society presence has been locked out of the negotiations with the arrival of Heads of State yesterday and today.

More From Our Blog

The Conference
Copenhagen, Denmark is the host of the 15th United Nations Climate Change Conference, from December 7-18th. The convention brings together delegates from 192 countries to negotiate an international response to climate change.

In addition to the 16,000 negotiators, accredited media, and NGO observers at The Bella Center, where negotiations happen, there will be thousands of other activists and citizens of the world who descend on the city for demonstrations, actions, theater, exhibitions, and more.

In Copenhagen, the world has the opportunity to lay the foundation and build consensus for a fair and binding global agreement to end the climate crisis.

Here’s a look at some of the key issues:

Emissions targets
An international climate deal will set targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The developing world and industrialized countries (like the U.S.) are likely to have different reduction targets, based on their vastly different consumption of fossil fuels. President Obama has indicated he will commit to a greenhouse gas reduction of 17% below 2005 levels by 2020.

This number falls short of what scientists tell us our reductions should be if we want to stabilize the climate. A much more ambitious goal of 40% below 1990 levels by 2020, and 95% by 2050 would get us much closer to safe levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Many NGOs and scientists are calling for 350 as the ultimate target. That’s the amount of carbon dioxide that it’s safe to have in the atmosphere, measured in parts per million.

The challenge to strong emissions targets is the gulf between political reality and scientific reality. A U.S. commitment to an international treaty would have to be ratified by the Senate, and the Senate is unlikely to support targets much higher than what President Obama has set forth. It’s up to all of us to push for a change in that political reality, and push negotiators and World leaders in the right direction.

Lowering carbon emissions and transitioning the world to clean energy will take a lot of investment – money that poorer nations don’t have and wealthier nations are reluctant to spend. Financing a climate treaty is a key sticking point between developing and industrialized nations. The United Nations Development Programme estimates that nearly $600 billion is needed for the world to reach the necessary emissions targets.

Financing the survival of vulnerable nations and people, and the transition to a global green economy, is a matter of justice as well as necessity. The United States uses much more greenhouse gases per person than any country in the world, meaning we bear a greater responsibility for the climate crisis.

Just as we've seen investments in clean-energy create opportunity for low-income communities in the United States, so too can the right investments in the green economy lead to global prosperity.

The U.S. has called for just $10 billion per year to go to vulnerable nations between now and 2012. This falls well short of what the developing world needs to survive climate change, let alone thrive in a new green economy. Another dose of reality vs. political reality that we’ll be trying to shift in Copenhagen (and beyond).

Preservation of forests
Deforestation is responsible for about 15% of all greenhouse gas emissions, and an estimated 1.6 billion people depend on the forest for their livelihoods. Maintaining forests and land is central to the fight against climate change, the survival of whole communities, and to creating and preserving green jobs in the developing world.

Clean technology transfer
How to share (or not) clean energy technology across borders is another tension between wealthy nations in the developing world. The deal must strike a balance between the interests of private companies that develop new technologies, and the people and nations of the world who need these technologies in order to survive and thrive. Private industries will need assurance that they'll profit from technology they develop, and ordinary citizens cannot be left to sink in the name of these profits.


Subscribe in a reader

Enter your email address to get the latest blog posts emailed to you:

Document Actions