Climate change: The road to Copenhagen [Archived]

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From 7-18 December, governments from 192 countries meeting in Copenhagen will attempt to thrash out a sweeping agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, amid growing signals from scientists that global warming is occurring more quickly than expected.

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Scientists across the world have been stepping up their warnings on climate change, saying glaciers are melting faster than expected, sea levels are rising more rapidly than ever and water supplies are drying up fast (EurActiv 13/03/09). 

But despite these warnings, world governments are still struggling to come up with a coordinated global response.  

The biggest challenge is to find a way to share global emissions reductions between rapidly developing countries, like China and India, and more industrialised regions, like the US and Europe, which are responsible for the bulk of historical CO2 emissions. 

However, bridging those views will be anything but easy, as decisions by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have to be taken unanimously. 

The United Nations Climate Change conference is the 15th UN Conference of the Parties (COP) and represents the last stage in global talks, launched in December 2007 in Bali, to clinch a deal on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. 

At their 2007 Bali meeting, more than 190 government representatives agreed to work out a new climate treaty by the end of 2009. 

Any new deal would need to come into force before January 2013 (see EurActiv LinksDossier on 'Global options for tackling climate change').