Decision Time in Copenhagen

From John Anthony Energy and Climate Communications Director, UN Foundation, writing from Copenhagen


UN climate negotiations have reached a critical juncture after 10 days of often fractious deliberations.

The divide between developed and developing nations, in terms of their objectives and negotiating positions, has been on full display throughout this gathering. The world has, arguably, never been closer to a comprehensive agreement – one that would include and commit many more nations to emissions reductions and low-carbon growth strategies than has the Kyoto protocol. But plenty of brinksmanship remains likely.

The U.S. announcement, pledging $1 Billion annually toward adaptation finance is a timely and welcome development, even if less than called for by developing countries – those least equipped financially to handle global warming impacts, and unfairly, least to blame for the problem at hand, in terms of historical, annual and per capita emissions.

Copenhagen was filled with optimism last week at the talks onset. While there still remains a chance of a positive outcome, the cummulative effect of NGO voices being squelched from the hall, and the halting nature of the official proceedings has cast a somber cloud upon an already overcast city.

Never before have 130+ world leaders gathered around a single issue at the same time, in the same place, however. At this stage the question is a matter of political will, not line item haggling.

After two years of posturing, the moment is finally upon world leaders to act. Or choose not to. Their cummulative decision holds in the balance the future of one climate that sustains life for us all.