5) UN Climate Talks Take Place in Copenhagen

By: Gloribelle J. Perez
Pace International Law Review, Junior Associate

In late 2009, the Bella Center in Copenhagen hosted the 15th United Nations Climate Change Conference.  With about 15,000 participants, including government officials from about 192 countries, members of the business community, and environmental experts, this was the largest international political conference that Denmark has ever hosted.

The conference is the latest in a series of UN meetings that aim to coordinate international action to combat climate change.  In a 1997 conference in Japan, world leaders developed the Kyoto Protocol as the first attempt to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.  The 15th United Nations Climate Change Conference sought to create a global agreement that requires action as of 2012, which marks the expiration date of the first commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol.

Denmark’s Prime Minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, and the Minister for the UN Climate Change Conference, Connie Hedegaard, urged conference participants that although the climate change problem is complicated and challenging, all nations must act quickly because “if we do not act today, the opportunity will not only slip out of our hands but it will also become much more expensive to carry out the necessary low-carbon transition in the future.”  The Danish Government sought to reach a global agreement in Copenhagen that met the challenge “set by science.”

The conference resulted in the Copenhagen Accord, which immediately went into effect.  Among other things, the Copenhagen Accord requires participating nations to embrace a political will to combat climate change, to take steps to decrease global emissions so as to keep the increase in global temperatures from reaching 2 degrees Celsius.  It further requires developed countries to provide financial and technological resources to help developing countries in their efforts to fight global warming.

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