Copenhagen Crossroads: Insight and Perspectives

by Lawrence Pacheco, Vice President, FD Public Affairs

The UN climate change conference is underway, and global leaders are descending upon Copenhagen to work on the building blocks of an international agreement to control greenhouse gases. As this meeting unfolds, debate is heating up around the globe.

Threatening to overshadow the UN meeting is a potential scandal over stolen emails from a climate research center at the University of East Anglia that were posted on the Internet. Climate change skeptics claim the emails prove that prominent scientists’ voices have been squelched in the debate over global warming. They hope this incident — dubbed ClimateGate — will raise doubt on the validity of climate science and derail the international negotiations.

Not so fast, say climate advocates. For years, thousands of scientists working at climate research centers throughout the world have carefully and rigorously reached a consensus on the extent of climate change, the urgency of the problem, and the role of human activity in causing it, they say, and a few distorted e-mail exchanges do not change that consensus.

Instead of following email trails, most experts say the real debate is over emissions reduction targets and money. At this point, all major countries have stepped forward and announced their reduction targets, and the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama is poised to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act if Congress does not pass climate legislation. With these targets on the table, the Copenhagen talks will focus on whether the next global accord includes concrete funding commitments from industrialized nations to help developing countries respond to climate change impacts and deploy technology to reduce their carbon pollution. Follow the deliberations to see if negotiators make funding commitments for a fast start on mitigation actions before 2012 and if developing countries will agree to a monitoring and verification process to ensure billions of dollars are spent effectively.

The business community has a lot at stake in the debate. Outcomes from both the U.S. legislative action and the international treaty negotiations will have far-reaching impacts on competitiveness, trade and investment.

FD’s coverage of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (COP 15) continues with new posts from our distinguished contributors:

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for timely updates live from COP15.


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FD SHIFT is a global forum for public policy and public affairs perspectives.

FD SHIFT provides policymakers, industry leaders and stakeholders with a forum to share their analysis of the critical policy issues facing business and government across the globe. FD, one of the world’s most highly regarded consultancies in the communications industry, wants to help build substance and foster thought leadership in public policy debate.

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