The 15th UN climate change conference began in Copenhagen last Monday, continuing through the end of this week. It is estimated that 15,000 participants from 192 countries are attending. The conference is the result of two years of international talks, and is intended to produce a binding treaty to cut global carbon emissions. The 1997 international Kyoto Protocol currently in place requiring substantial reductions in carbon emissions expires in 2012. The Copenhagen treaty is supposed to be more stringent than Kyoto, establishing a ceiling for global warming. The 124 countries that signed the Kyoto Protocol and complied with it have agreed that ceiling should be an increase of no more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2050. A cap and trade agreement is also in the plans.
Due to the contentious debate over global warming and the heavy price participating economically advanced countries will be forced to pay, insiders predict the conference will only result in general guidelines and principals, not a binding treaty. A binding treaty will likely be tabled for another try next year. “Climate-gate,” the leak of emails from climate scientists revealing they had hidden evidence contradicting manmade global warming, no doubt played a substantial role derailing the possibility of a firm treaty. The emails implicated several scientists who helped draft the UN’s 2007 global warming report, which has been frequently cited as“unequivocal” evidence of a global warming crisis. This report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007 Fourth Assessment Report, is what prompted political efforts leading up to the Copenhagen conference.