This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

January 06, 2010

President Obama Spearheads a Climate Agreement in Copenhagen

Photo of President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a table with at least a dozen people, with another eight people standing in the background.

President Obama met with the leaders of Brazil, China, India, and South Africa to establish the Copenhagen Accord. Enlarge this image.
Credit: Pete Souza, White House

President Obama visited Copenhagen, Denmark, on December 18, 2009, and met with the heads of state from Brazil, China, India, and South Africa to reach a climate agreement called the "Copenhagen Accord." The agreement emerged as the primary achievement of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. The non-binding agreement calls for deep cuts in global emissions of greenhouse gases so as to hold the increase in global temperature below 2°C, and it calls for industrialized countries to determine their economy-wide emissions targets for 2020 and submit them to the United Nations by the end of January. A number of developing countries, including the major emerging economies, also agreed to list their voluntary pledges to reduce emissions by the end of January and agreed to communicate their efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions every two years.

The Copenhagen Accord also calls for international support of a comprehensive adaptation program and of mitigation efforts by developing countries. The accord commits developed countries to provide new and additional resources approaching $30 billion for the 2010-2012 time period, balanced between adaptation and mitigation. Developed countries also committed to a goal of mobilizing $100 billion per year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries. The accord establishes a new Copenhagen Green Climate Fund to coordinate the distribution of a significant portion of this funding. According to the secretariat of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Copenhagen Accord was agreed to by a majority of countries, although the entire Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (consisting of 194 countries) agreed only to "take note" of the accord. The next Conference of the Parties will be held in Mexico, starting on November 29, 2010. See the UNFCCC press release (PDF 178 KB), pages 2-4 of the Copenhagen Accord (PDF 182 KB), and other products of the Copenhagen conference on the UNFCCC home page. Download Adobe Reader.

President Obama called the agreement a meaningful and unprecedented breakthrough. "For the first time in history, all major economies have come together to accept their responsibility to take action to confront the threat of climate change," said the president, but he also acknowledged the agreement as a first step. "Going forward, we're going to have to build on the momentum that we've established here in Copenhagen to ensure that international action to significantly reduce emissions is sustained and sufficient over time. We've come a long way, but we have much further to go." See the President's comments on the White House Web site.