>> Tuesday, December 8, 2009
From an article by Christine Dell'Amore on National Geographic News:
What Is COP15?
"COP15" acronym is short for the 15th Conference of Parties, or countries, to the UNFCC. COP15 is also the fifth meeting of parties to the Kyoto Protocol.
The Kyoto Protocol is a legally binding emissions-reduction treaty created in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan. The Kyoto agreement aims to reduce global industrial greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 5 percent against 1990 levels over a five-year period—from 2008 to 2012.
The Kyoto climate treaty, which went into force in 2005, was ratified by 185 nations but not the United States.
Because the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012, an "ambitious new deal" needs to be worked out this year to provide governments guidance beyond Kyoto, the UNFCC says.
What Are the Copenhagen Climate Conference's Goals?
The UN Framework on Climate Change aims to stabilize atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases to a level that will not create "dangerous" interference with the climate.
Though there is still debate as to what constitutes "dangerous," the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere before the industrial revolution was 278 parts per million, contrasted with 381 today.
By 2050 the UNFCC hopes to cut atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations in half, versus 2000 levels.
The Copenhagen climate conference has four achievable goals, according to the UNFCC:
1. Make clear how much developed countries, such as the U.S., Australia, and Japan, will limit their greenhouse gas emissions.
2. Determine how, and to what degree, developing countries, such as China, India, and Brazil, can limit their emissions without limiting economic growth.
3. Explore options for "stable and predictable financing" from developed countries that can help the developing world reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change.
4. Identify ways to ensure developing countries are treated as equal partners in decision-making, particularly when it comes to technology and finance.
Possible Outcomes of the Climate Conference?
According to the International Institute for Environment and Development, there could be several outcomes to the Copenhagen climate conference, including the following:
1. No agreement: The meeting could result in a decision to resume talks in 2010.
2. Voluntary agreement: The climate conference could yield nonbinding pact that allows each government to decide its own goals and how to reach them. Opponents to this approach argue that targets need to be internationally binding and enforced. Otherwise, they say, reductions will take too long or not happen at all.
3. Binding agreement: A new legally binding agreement, ratified at the December climate conference, could replace Kyoto when the protocol expires in 2012.