Recent global meet on climate change in Copenhagen: what were achieved and what were not.

Long before the commencement of Copenhagen climate change meet, many from all over the world started talking passionately about the “dangerous climate change”, which as we know deals with the issue of increase of global temperature of 2 degrees Celsius (2C) from the preindustrial level.

This issue was discussed at length in Copenhagen and an accord was ultimately announced on December 18, 2009 followed by a plenary session on December 19, 2009.

What does it say?

The Accord is a 12-paragraph document of statement of intents and non-binding pledges to address the “dangerous climate change” issues.

Towards this direction the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) at Copenhagen recommended even to the developed countries of the world to reduce carbon emission from their respective 1990 level by not less than 25% by 2020, from when the global carbon emission is expected to start declining.

USA and China were the key partners of IPCC with a strong supporting role played by Brazil, South Africa and India to have an accord that suits the emerging large developing economies of the world. The accord though recommends to the developed countries, barring the US, to ensure their carbon emission cuts, but not under the Kyoto Protocol. Most influential 26 countries of the world agreed with this accord and other 192 countries, though appeared to be unhappy in the plenary session, accepted the same with their ‘silence’, which perhaps means indirect consent.

The key points of the accord:

The main points of the Copenhagen Accord are as follows:

• Cooperation by all in containing emissions within 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.

• To reduce carbon emission, the developing nations will report in every two years on their non-binding voluntary actions. This report will be subject to international consultations and analysis.

• US $ 10 billion each year will be financed by the developed countries for a three-year program to pay for the projects taken up by the poorer nations to develop clean energy and effectively address drought and other climate-change impacts.

• A goal of mobilizing US $ 100 billion per year by 2020 was also set for achieving the same objectives.

Is this accord a triumph of USA or China or the BASIC countries?

This accord is seen by some as a triumph of the USA to influence the ultimate outcome of the Copenhagen climate change summit. US President Barack Obama, in fact, brought back the negotiation from the brink of collapse, at the last minute, through hectic negotiation with the heads of states of Brazil, South Africa, India and China (BASIC countries).

What will the success of the summit depend upon?

The success of this accord will depend on whether the USA will be able to live up to its promises to reduce carbon emissions in their own country and help other countries to address the same by raising billions of dollars.

BASIC countries, especially China, emerged stronger:

The process of this accord also witnessed China coming stronger leveraging their clout in a multilateral forum of the African continent, which is very rich in various valuable natural resources. However, many other less powerful nations, as said earlier, felt left out in this deal brokered mainly by the US initiative and interest.

Thus even after reaching the accord, at the plenary session on the last Saturday, a large number of speakers from the developing nations sharply criticized the deal alleging it as a pact meant only for the rich and BASIC countries.

Lack of a clear roadmap:

Be that as it may, without a clear road map for research and development of low-carbon technologies and no binding collective carbon emission target, achieving 2C by 2020 still remains a pipe dream.


After the Copenhagen Accord, Brazil, South Africa, India and China (BASIC), the four large emerging economies of the world, were immensely successful to display their joint muscle power to the world as a whole, clearly emerging as a major combined force to reckon with, especially by the developed nations of the world lead by the USA.

However, many will strongly feel that interests of smaller and poorer nations of the world were sacrificed in this first global agreement of the century on climate change at Copenhagen.

By Tapan Ray

Disclaimer: The views/opinions expressed in this article are entirely my own, written in my individual and personal capacity. I do not represent any other person or organization for this opinion.