The Copenhagen Climate Change Accord

ASIL Insights, Vol. 14, No. 3 (February 16, 2010)


Although the Copenhagen Accord has been criticized by some as inadequate, it represents a potentially significant breakthrough. True, the emission reduction pledges announced thus far do not put the world on a pathway to limiting climate change to 2° C, the ostensible long-term goal of the Accord. But the participating states did agree to list their national actions internationally and to subject their actions to some form of international scrutiny, even when their actions do not receive any international support. Plus, the Accord articulates a quantified long-term goal for the first time (no more than 2° C temperature increase) and puts significant new funds on the table, both for the short and medium terms. This outcome may seem like a rather modest achievement, but it represents some measure of "internationalization" of developing country actions. In any event, if world leaders could not agree to more through direct negotiations, under an intense international spotlight, it is hard to see why mid-level negotiators will be able to achieve more anytime soon. As a result, the Copenhagen Accord may well represent the high-water mark of the climate change regime for some time to come.

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ASIL Insight Vol. 14 No. 3