Copenhagen Outcomes... And What You Can Do

From: Rhys
Sent on: Friday, January 8, 2010 10:46 PM
TGIF, am I right? :)

Please see my thoughts on the Copenhagen climate talks... and an invite for you to join our new Low Carbon Diet series starting soon.??Learn more and sign up!

Yours, Rhys

So What Was All That About Copenhagen?

Dear Friends,

When I looked out over the Atlantic Ocean on my way back to Copenhagen last month, two thoughts were top of mind: 1) thank God I made this flight (I had been stuck in European airports due to weather delays for 3 1/2 days)? and 2) what did Copenhagen really mean for our planet's future?

A week into 2010 and I'm still wrestling with the second question. As the two long weeks of the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit drew to a close, I wasn't so sure negotiators could agree to just about anything. Developing countries lacked confidence that developed countries would meet their commitments and much of the texts parties had been diligently worked on for over two years were still riddled with brackets, indicating consensus had not been reached.

But an hour before midnight on the last day a deal was indeed struck. Realizing the talks were in disarray, President Obama scuttled his scheduled itinerary the moment he arrived in Denmark that morning. His day was spent darting from one ad hoc heads of state meeting after another, in an attempt to salvage a global agreement that the US administration had doggedly worked to achieve since it came into power. An evening gathering of the leaders of the United States, Brazil, China, India and South Africa finally cobbled together a plan they could all (barely) stomach: the Copenhagen Accord.

So what does the Copenhagen Accord mean for the planet?

It is fair to say that there is far too little to be excited about. On the upside, the pact does mobilize much needed funding to help small island states and poor African countries cope with the impacts of climate change that has already reached their borders. It also requires major emerging economies like China to verify their emission reductions; this was crucial if the U.S. Senate is going to pass an aggressive climate bill at home.?

On the downside, the Accord doesn't include any numerical commitments to reduce emissions. Instead there is literally a blank sheet for countries to write in a pledge of their choosing. While the Accord requires developed countries' pledges to be verified, there would be no ramifications if they aren't met.

Taken as is, the Copenhagen Accord has not set the world's carbon emissions in a safer trajectory. At best, the agreement can be seen as a small stepping stone toward a future legally binding agreement. Whether the planet hits some scary tipping points in the near future depends on the urgency at which a fully baked pact is agreed upon.

Just a week into 2010, and time is already running out.

The lackluster Copenhagen Accord makes it more important than ever for members of CarbonfreeDC to renew their efforts to educate themselves, family and friends on how to reduce global warming pollution in their own lives and inform them of the consequences if we don't... this is a hurdle that must not be over looked. While the American public is supportive of taking action to reduce emissions, recent surveys show that global warming ranks alarmingly low against other concerns.

We will need everyone on board to solve this issue, including politicians. In order for them to become a climate advocate they'll need to hear from you, your Mom and even your Aunt Polly. Only then will we have a fighting chance of averting the worst effects of climate change. The world is in our hands.

What You Can Do Now: Call Your Senator

The climate talks in Copenhagen show the critical need for the U.S. to take bold action on climate and energy in the New Year. Next Tuesday, January 12 CarbonfreeDC is joining up with 1Sky to flood Senate offices with phone calls to urge support for strong climate and clean energy legislation in 2010.

Please sign up at to join this effort and make your voice heard!

Live in the District? I'm guessing you have ties elsewhere. Take a moment to call a Senator that represents a state that you know and love.?

What You Can Do Now: Join Our Low Carbon Diet Program

CarbonfreeDC is starting up its Low Carbon Diet Program in late January or early February, where we'll help you lose 5000 pounds (of CO2) in 30 days! In the program, you'll get together with a small group of locals to discover together how to reduce carbon emissions in your home and lifestyle.

Interested in learning more? Learn more and sign up!


Best Regards,

Rhys Gerholdt

Executive Director


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