December 2009 saw Copenhagen welcome more than 40 world leaders and an additional 20,000 delegates at the seminal United Nations Climate Change Conference. Without doubt the most heavily anticipated discussion of the year, and dubbed ‘the most important gathering in the history of humankind’ by environment secretary Hilary Benn, the summit promised to be the single biggest international push in finally addressing the issue of global warming.
The main focus of the event, and no doubt the most discussed topic over the course of the summit, was about how to establish action. The committee aimed to summarise and agree upon a list of clear decisions on how to slow down the current rate of carbon emissions worldwide, and cement this ‘to do’ list with a series of actionable objectives over the course of the next nine months. The world's super powers agreed to limit global temperature rises to less than two degrees Celsius. The US, China, Brazil, India and South Africa also agreed to gift $30bn to developing countries over the next three years
Nicaragua submitted proposals to restart the negotiations on legal requirements of emission reductions from developed nations. Previously the United States has come under pressure due to its seemingly slow reactions to getting involved in tackling worldwide environmental issues and this trend continued in Copenhagen. President Obama's speech received a lot of criticism - with many commentators saying his plans to cut US emissions by four percent on 1990 levels as being less than is required to action change.
In the face of increasingly strong public opinion and mounting scientific research findings, the United Nations Climate Change Conference had key environmental issues on the agenda, not least the threat of flooding as weather conditions become more extreme, and how to implement recommendations from 2008’s Pitt Report. The media notoriety that natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina have been getting worse has been in part dubbed ‘the Al Gore effect’ thanks to the former Vice President’s significant work in raising awareness of climate change repercussions.
Friends of the Earth, campaigners for solutions to environmental problems, has spoken out against the proposed action of major countries, in particular the USA, stating it wants countries to pledge an emissions cut of 40% or more. Previous discussions highlighted funding as being critical to help cut emissions, with Gordon Brown calling for £100bn of global funding to be made available to support this action. Whatever the government news is, the focus seems to very much be on a strategic worldwide investment, rather than any single technological attempt at a solution. It's just that to some organisations, the major countries aren't doing enough to evoke change or to encourage developing countries to make the required changes.