The Copenhagen Accord – Final Thoughts on COP15

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 ┬áin 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…

Tom is the founder, editor, and publisher of GlobalWarmingisReal.com and the TDS Environmental Media Network. He has been a contributor for Triple Pundit since 2007. Tom has written for Slate, Earth911, the Pepsico Foundation, Cleantechnia, Planetsave, and many other sustainability-focused publications.