C2ES Statement on Copenhagen Accord

Statement of Elliot Diringer
Vice President for International Strategies
Pew Center on Global Climate Change

December 19, 2009

The Copenhagen Accord is an important step forward in the international climate effort.  In both form and substance, this political agreement falls well short of what ultimately is needed. But it will for the first time secure political pledges from all major economies to curb their emissions. And, at the insistence of the United States, it lays the foundation for a system to hold countries accountable.  This represents real movement by China and other major developing countries.

Much remains to be negotiated.  In setting a new negotiating deadline, governments unfortunately weren’t clear on the need for a legally binding agreement. Going forward, the goal must be a comprehensive new treaty with fair and effective legal commitments by all major economies.

Though it was formally launched two years ago in Bali, the Copenhagen negotiation in reality started just 10 months ago when President Obama took office. The President put forward all he reasonably could at this stage, and achieved good progress. But the U.S. wasn’t in a position to put final offers on the table, so other parties couldn’t be expected to either.  It’s no surprise that some of the toughest issues still lie ahead.