When the United Nations Climate Change Conference ended Dec. 19 in Copenhagen, world leaders had reached an agreement to cap the global temperature rise by significantly reducing emissions and financing environmental efforts in developing countries. 

The end result, however, is much weaker than many environmentalists would have liked, and the international blame game is heating up. 

While most countries supported the Copenhagen Accord, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon admitted it “cannot be everything that everyone hoped for, but it is an essential beginning.” 

The Accord recognizes the scientific view that an increase in global temperature below 2° is required to stave off global warming’s worst effects. Mitigation requires industrialized countries to commit to implementing, individually or jointly, quantified emissions targets by 2020. 

The deadline for countries to sign the Accord is Jan. 31, and President Obama is trying to remain optimistic. 

“After extremely difficult and complex negotiations, this important breakthrough lays the foundation for international action in the years to come,” he said. “This progress did not come easily, and we know that progress on this particular aspect of climate-change negotiations is not enough. Going forward, we’re going to have to build on the momentum that we established in Copenhagen to ensure that international action to significantly reduce emissions is sustained and sufficient over time.

“At home,” he continued, “that means continuing our efforts to build a clean energy economy that has the potential to create millions of new jobs and new industries. And it means passing legislation that will create the incentives necessary to spark this clean energy revolution.

“So, even though we have a long way to go, there’s no question that we’ve accomplished a great deal over the last few days. And I want America to continue to lead on this journey, because if America leads in developing clean energy, we will lead in growing our economy and putting our people back to work, and leaving a stronger and more secure country to our children.”

Photo courtesy of the White House