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The Copenhagen Accord – Final Thoughts on COP15

| Monday December 21st, 2009 | 10 Comments

Get the full text of the Copenhagen Accord (pdf – advance unedited version).

This will be my last post under the banner “The Road to Copenhagen.” Much punditry, on this site and elsewhere, comes in the wake of the now-ended COP15 climate conference. I will likely not have much to add as I recover from my 28-hour journey home (one missed connection can really spoil your day) and begin to take stock of the last two weeks. There is talk of “heartbreaking disappointment” resulting from the process and the Copenhagen Accord which it bore, and I am forced to question the wisdom of placing this disappointment solely at the feet of COP15.

I am disappointed in the political posturing – with 192 heads of state on hand, bloated and often pointless rhetoric is inevitable – but necessary. Just getting all these world leaders in the room at the same time is an accomplishment.

I am disappointed in the process – leaked texts, procedural conundrums stalling substantive negotiation, accusations of incompetent leadership of the conference. With all the talk of “The Road to Copenhagen,” once we all arrived, confusion often seemed the order of the day.

I am disappointed in the activist NGOs – make no mistake, they serve a vital role and helped galvanize a global movement these past two weeks. It is essential and energizing. But by early Saturday morning, with their instantaneous condemnation of the Copenhagen Accord before the final draft had even been released, Bill McKibben (of 350.org) looked and sounded a little wild-eyed to me. It is a danger in activist movements that the messenger begins to distract from the message. Time to review tactics and strategies.

I am disappointed in the Copenhagen Accord – it is aspirational, non-binding, vague on key points, and lacks the required ambition needed to avoid unacceptable risks of a severely destabilized climate. But it is a start. Nobody has claimed the work is finished.

I am disappointed in myself (and in you)–as this experience draws to a close, one thing I realize is that we are all responsible for what brought us to Copenhagen, what happened in Copenhagen, and where we go from here. I’m not sure what we really expected to happen at COP15. Starting several weeks before, many had already pretty much summed up the results – Nopenhagen. Others felt nothing short of an ultimate solution of the problem should be expected. Still others blindly hang on to denying the problem even exists; I checked into my blog at GlobalWarmingisReal earlier today to find comments with the typical uninformed, vitriolic, and personal attacks in the name of climate change denial. (One suggesting that I am only in it for the money – a real belly-buster. My sojourn to COP15 has been entirely self-funded, thank you very much).

The point being, as Arnold Schwarzenegger said  in his speech last Tuesday, as important as the work at the international level is, it will never be enough. And so it isn’t. We must all use our personal talents and fortitude to contribute as best we can to making a better world. And then to never assume we have done enough. Leave your ego at the door.

The Road to CanCun begins…


▼▼▼      10 Comments     ▼▼▼

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  • inezharkersmith

    Dear Tom,
    I am on your team. I did the same…made the same pilgrimage and came home to smirks and cynical little wise-cracks…from a world that is weary of its own inertia. We have something…it isn't enough…but I will go there and do it again and not give in until we get what we went for in the first place – the whole deal: complete and unabridged. The one we deserve. The one we are fighting for.

    Don't give up. The world is a fine place and still worth fighting for.
    Inez – Earth's People

    • http://twitter.com/earth_warming Tom

      Thanks for the comment Inez. It's folks like you that are going to make the difference, and inspire others to try to do the same.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jen.boynton Jen Boynton

    Really great summary, Tom. You put into words all these thoughts I've been feeling about the whole build-up and the Copenhagen Accord. I can only imagine what it would have been to actually be there.

    • http://twitter.com/earth_warming Tom

      Thanks Jen – good to be home! So you're going to COP16? Make sure it's on a press pass and not an NGO pass. The press pass was like pure gold – especially for the second week.

      • jenboynton

        totes. any tips for securing one?

        • http://twitter.com/earth_warming Tom

          I'm not sure what finally moved the UNFCCC for my press accreditation. After several weeks of no word, they responded within 24 hours after I let them know of my association with the German Foreign Office (my trip to Germany last spring and to Maryland for the Conference last month) – but I bet you could swing it with your managing editor status for 3P. I know a lot of bloggers came on NGO accreditation, but if you can get press accreditation, it's much better for real access. NGO's had no access to press briefings, had to spend hours in the cold just to get inside Bella (especially the second week, where many couldn't get in at all and they started severely restricting NGO access), and NGO's weren't able to access the media center to work (of course, by the end of the second week, even that was full to the gills). I wonder of COP16 will attract the overflow crowds that COP15 did.

  • Klem

    This accord is a terrible joke. It is nothing more than a handshake and a slap on the back. There is no legally binding agreement so it is meaningless. If our leaders really beleived that elevated CO2 was controlling and damaging the climate they would have signed the treaty and COP15 would have been a success. But they didn't sign it because they don't really Beleive. Period.

  • http://www.merchantsolutionsllc.com ajdv

    Hi,Tom,Don't give up…

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