Low Hopes for Copenhagen After Final Interim Meetings

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.


World leaders passed two major milestones in the pursuit of an international climate treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol over the weekend, both without resolving any of the major areas of disagreement before their final meeting of 2009 in Copenhagen.

The finance ministers of the G20 nations met over the weekend for a summit that was supposed to produce plans for financing climate change adaptation and mitigation in the developing world. And last week there were key meetings in Barcelona as part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the last meeting of the working groups ahead of the Copenhagen summit, which begins Dec. 7. Unfortunately, neither event produced the much needed progress.

Finance ministers were unable to come to a deal, as Reuters reports that “talks got bogged down in a row with large developing countries about who should foot the bill.” The United Kingdom, which hosted the meeting, wanted to reach a deal to provide $100 billion to cover the costs of climate change in the developing world up until 2020. But in the end, they could only agree “to increase significantly and urgently the scale and predictability of finance to implement an ambitious international agreement.”

The statement is not very specific, and it’s not the kind of commitment that developing countries are saying is necessary to ensure their participation in a deal. Leaders promised a real agreement on financing would come at this meeting at their last summit in Pittsburgh in September, and securing an assistance package was seen as a crucial step ahead of the December meeting.

The meetings in Barcelona weren’t much better. Talks ended in a stalemate, with US negotiators unwilling (and, frankly, unable, given the ongoing Senate debate) to offer concrete emissions reductions targets and downplaying hopes for a deal this year.

Developing nations didn’t take the delay sitting down. On Tuesday, delgates from 50 African nations walked out in protest of rich nations’ unwillingness to commit. Talks resumed after a day-long boycott, but in the end the African bloc called the goals from developed nations “unacceptable” and demanded least 40 percent cuts below 1990 levels by 2020. The rest of the developing world, known as the Group of 77, maintained that the US and rich nations were repeating empty rhetoric rather than making meaningful commitments to curbing emissions.

“Non-performance, non-deliverance and non-commitment by the developed countries is acting as a brake for any meaningful progress,” said Sudanese delegate Lumumba Di-Aping, whose country currently chairs the G77. “We need a real change of heart and mind by the developed countries.”

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.