Copenhagen in a Nutshell

Daniel Farber

Dec. 23, 2009

 cross-posted from Legal Planet

Rob Stavins has a good, concise overview of the session and the outcome on the Belfer Center website.  Not as negative as some other observers, he highlights the extraordinary procecess that resulted in the Copenhagen Accord:

It is virtually unprecedented in international negotiations for heads of government (or heads of state) to be directly engaged in, let alone lead, negotiations, but that is what transpired in Copenhagen. Although the outcome is less than many people had hoped for, and is less than some people may have expected when the Copenhagen conference commenced, it is surely better – much better – than what most people anticipated just three days earlier, when the talks were hopelessly deadlocked.

Overall, he sees Copenhagen as a constructive move forward:

The climate change policy process is best viewed as a marathon, not a sprint. The Copenhagen Accord – depending upon details yet to be worked out – could well turn out to be a sound foundation for a Portfolio of Domestic Commitments, which could be an effective bridge to a longer-term arrangement among the countries of the world. We may look back upon Copenhagen as an important moment – both because global leaders took the reins of the procedures and brought the negotiations to a fruitful conclusion, and because the foundation was laid for a broad-based coalition of the willing to address effectively the threat of global climate change. Only time will tell.

I am no expert on foreign affairs, but it seems unlikely to me that continuing with the U.N. negotiating process is going to be fruitful.  It worked (up to a point) at Kyoto, because nothing was asked of the developing countries.  Even than, the agreement wasn’t able to obtain U.S. agreement.  If you think of the key players as Japan, the EU, the US, and the four BRIC countries; Kyoto was only able to get three of the seven to commit to any action.

My guess is that the last-minute negotiations at Copenhagen were a harbinger of the future, which will be driven by agreement between the key players — the Great Powers of the coming era.

 

P.S.  Another interesting perspective on Copenhagen can be found here.

 

Read More by Daniel Farber
CPR HOMEPAGE
More on CPR's Work & Scholars.
June 30, 2022

Supreme Court Swings at Phantoms in West Virginia v. EPA

June 29, 2022

The Revelator Op-Ed: Regulators Have a Big Chance to Advance Energy Equity

June 28, 2022

New Yorkers' Environmental Rights Are Under Attack

June 27, 2022

Two FERC Cases and Why They Matter

June 23, 2022

Member Scholar Buzbee Leads Congressional Amicus in Crucial Supreme Court Clean Water Act Case

June 23, 2022

Justices Overturn Washington Workers' Compensation Law on a Strict Reading of Intergovernmental Immunity

June 22, 2022

Addressing Overburdened, Underserved Communities' Priorities Is Vital to Success of California Climate Plan