So after all that planning, debating, and negotiating, what exactly happened at Copenhagen? Three big things, actually:
- All but five countries “took note” of the final climate proposal. Countries that recognized the proposal have until the end of January to register their plans to reduce emissions and combat climate change impacts already occurring. Even then, the final document is not binding; signing it is more an act of goodwill. We look forward to the next climate conference in Mexico in December, when countries will reconvene to try locking the proposal down.
- The United States, China, and India all pledged to cut their carbon output by 2020. The U.S. promised a 17% reduction in emissions, while China committed up to 45% and India set a 24% target in their carbon intensity. The difference? Carbon intensity measures the amount of energy used to produce one unit of economic growth, making it a comparable guideline for developing countries.
- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the United States will help mobilize $100 billion a year by 2020 to address developing countries’ climate change needs. Specifically, the funds will focus on adaptation (to cope with the impact of global warming) and mitigation (to reduce emissions specifically).
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