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Copenhagen Accord Falls Short

By Justin O'Neill
February 9, 2010
File under: Environmental Policy, Global Initiatives, Obama


In December 2009, a month after President Obama’s visit to China, the United States joined a host of delegates at the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as the Copenhagen Summit or Cop15.

Years of planning went into these negotiations between 115 world leaders, though the outcome (by most assessments) was pretty disappointing.

The main conclusion of days of discussion and debate was the Copenhagen Accord, a document “taken note of” (rather than “adopted”) by the United States, Brazil, China, India, and South Africa. 

The document sanctions the continuance of the Kyoto Protocol, and “recognizes” the scientific importance of keeping global temperature increase below 2 °C, but does not contain any mandatory carbon emissions reductions.

International response to the agreement has been mixed, with most analyses believing that the Copenhagen Accord goes nowhere near far enough.  President Obama called the Accord “meaningful,” but noted “This progress is not enough.”

The next United Nations Climate Change Conference will take place in Mexico City around the end of 2010.  To read more about the Copenhagen Summit, and to see the text of the Accord, visit

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