Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Copenhagen Conference

Starting on December 7th, and stretching until the 18th of the same month, representatives from 192 nations will work together to develop a collective strategy for combating global warming. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) will meet in Copenhagen, Denmark to discuss the best way to follow up the expiring Kyoto Protocol. Needless to say, the eyes of the world are watching China and the United States, the biggest CO2 contributors, and hoping the two giants will be a part of the proposal this time around.

Let us all hope that China and the US will find the terms of any agreement reached acceptable, for the sake of the planet. According to NY Times' Elizabeth Rosenthal, "In 1997, 37 industrialized nations and the European Union agreed to emission targets in a pact known as the Kyoto Protocol. (American lawmakers declined to ratify the pact, which took effect in 2005 and must be renewed or renegotiated by 2012.)" The US refused participation in Kyoto due in large part to China's rejection. China passed on the protocol because they felt it would severely hinder their flourishing economy. Their country is considered "developed", but they are still developing in many parts, and emission caps would hamper them. The US turned down Kyoto because they felt in unfair for them to agree when China would not. China believes, justifiably, that they deserve the opportunity the US had to build up their country.

Copenhagen aims mostly to provide a bridge between now and 2012, when Kyoto expires. Kyoto has fallen short of many of its goals. Its successor, Copenhagen, shares the same goals, for the most part, primarily aiming for "reductions in emissions and aid for developing nations to adapt to a changing climate." It's time the two world leaders stopped shirking their responsibilities to the world at large and to future generations. We need to find a way to work together, with the rest of the world, to set ambitious, yet realistic goals for reducing emissions. This is not just about Americans or Chinese. It's about the world. If we continue to fail planet, we will all lose. If we find a way to work together, however, there is still hope. The world is watching our country and China. Let's not let them down this time.

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