The Post-Kyoto Environment and Way Forward

The steps outlined by the 2009 Copenhagen Accord should be followed by further policies and actions worldwide.

UN Climate Change Summit

Lars Loekke Rasmussen, Denmark’s prime minister, speaks during the opening ceremony of the high level segment of the COP15 United Nations Climate Change Conference at the Bella Centre in Copenhagen, Denmark, on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2009. United Nations negotiators failed to agree on financial aid that industrialized nations such as the U.S. and Japan will give to the developing world for coping with climate change, threatening a global-warming accord. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg *** Local Caption *** Lars Loekke Rasmussen

Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

On December 18, 2009, in Denmark, during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (UNCCC), the Copenhagen Accord was signed by the United States, China, India, Brazil and South Africa, in an attempt to reach an agreement that would set a common ground for the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

The 12 point statement speaks of the necessity of continuing Kyoto Protocol (which has 2,012 targets), emphasizing the need for political will in combating climate change and endorsing a low-emission development strategy.

The Accord admits that the global temperature increase should not go beyond 2 degrees Celsius by 2020, pointing out that an adaptation programme may be drawn up with that goal in mind.

Also, the signatories recognized the role of the developed countries in financially supporting the lesser developed countries, in an effort of adapting global policies regarding the environment to the different contexts of each country. Incentives may be established for the developing countries to encourage them for their low emissions in the future as well.

According to this agreement, the developed countries should set 2020 emission targets and implement mitigation actions in order to reduce carbon emissions, while less developed countries should take actions without target pressure and with international aid while reporting these actions to the U.N. climate change secretariat every two years.

The role of reducing emissions linked to deforestation and forest degradation is considered crucial and the developed countries being invited to set up financial instruments in pursue of that aim.

Subsequently, the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund was created, in order to support all developing countries’ activities related to carbon emissions reduction. And an informal goal of raising $100 billion per year (by 2020) was set, to help in the development of such activities.

This agreement represents an important step forward, giving reasons to hope that the protocol following Kyoto will establish higher standards for environment protection and reduction of green house gas emissions.

However, several analysts have pointed out that, because this Accord is not legally biding, many countries may stay away from taking action. Furthermore, on one hand, no actual targets were set for emission reductions, and on the other hand, the raising of $100 billion per year as aiding funds is found to be highly improbable.

The fact is that by February 1, 2010, 55 nations had attached formal emission targets to the Copenhagen Accord, representing 78 percent of global emissions of greenhouse gases which are definitely promising figures.

Evidently, what the world needs is that these steps outlined by the 2009 Copenhagen Accord be followed by further policies and actions worldwide. And largely, everyone should recognize and assume his role in achieving this goal.

Let’s not forget that everyone, as a part of modern society, is somehow contributing to the degradation of our living environment. Alternative ways of life are there, within our reach. All it takes is a responsible commitment from all of us. Right now, while it’s not too late!

Vlad Mazilu is a Sustainability Analyst with Solaron Sustainability Services. He is based in Romania and covers the European region for Solaron. Solaron ( is a niche Sustainability / ESG research firm with a global team of 60+ Analysts present across several Emerging markets like India, Brazil, China, UAE, Mexico, Russia, Eastern Europe and Africa.