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Copenhagen and the Future

Today, international climate talks are being held in Copenhagen, Denmark. This summit is attempting to overcome all of the political interests of each individual country to work toward a goal that is, ultimately, in the interest of every country in the world. However, every nation has a different idea of how this goal should be accomplished. The developing world is averse to replacing the Kyoto Protocol, the only binding legal document regarding climate change, because it fears that the industrial world will devise an even less effective agreement. Most countries in Africa, for example, collectively agreed before the summit that they will not accept a replacement of the Kyoto Protocol. Developing countries want to be able to continue to have economic assistance, but no obligation to lower their production emissions. Although, as with the Kyoto Protocol, the United States is turning out to be one of the lowest pledging countries at the conference so far ("Where Countries..."). President Obama has pledged to cut emissions by 17% by 2005 levels, compared to the EU's pledge of 20%, Australia's pledge of 25% by 2000 levels, Japans pledge of 25% by 1990 levels, and China's pledge of 40% by 1990 levels, all by 2020 ("Obama Vows...").

Although Copenhagen is not likely to end in a legally binding international treaty, hopefully important steps will be made toward a political agreement in 2010. Some signs of progress in Copenhagen would include a commitment by industrialized nations to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a commitment by industrialized nations to help fund developing countries in their attempt to build clean energy systems, a commitment by developing countries to limit the rate at which greenhouse gas emissions are released, and the development of an effective way to monitor and enforce these agreements (Eschelman).

Although it may require more creativity and innovation, it is possible for countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase productivity. Green jobs, clean energy technologies, and better trading can all stimulate the economy while keeping an industrialized nation running smoothly. In order to make significant progress on the issue of climate change, it is important to change the attitude with which countries tackle global warming. The Kyoto Protocol politically binds many nations to reverse the damage they have done to the environment. Developed countries are responsible for 75% of the world's carbon emissions, and the countries who suffer the most are the planet’s poorest. Climate change negotiations should be geared toward making amends for this injustice by making an honest effort to reduce emissions, helping developing countries industrialize without polluting the atmosphere, and devising a long term strategy to transition from dirty energy to a system of clean and sustainable energy practices. The global population is calling for action on global warming. Global leaders need to listen to all voices, put politics aside, and act in the interest of the greater and long term good (Atkins).

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