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[Source: The US Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)]

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Limited progress at Copenhagen

The Copenhagen Conference brought progress in protecting the world's forests.

The Copenhagen Conference brought progress in protecting the world's forests.

The Copenhagen Climate Conference of 2009 is over and any measure of success depends largely on who you ask. But one health and climate expert sees at least some progress on two out of three goals.

Three issues dominated the United Nations Copenhagen Climate Conference during the last two weeks: funding, forest preservation, and emission reductions. Despite lack of resolution on the latter, there has been some success on the first two.

…The climate fund envisioned at the conference will include financing for adaptation, mitigation (climate stabilization and clean technology transfer), and forest preservation. Though much, much more funding is needed—hundreds of billions of dollars a year for several decades, according to leading energy experts, for the clean energy transformation alone—there is now a platform for ratcheting up the amount (rapidly, we can hope, as nations and organizations maintain pressure).

…A second accomplishment of the Copenhagen conference: The principles for a framework have been put forward for Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD). Threats of further deforestation—including the use of trees for biofuels and in large-scale bioenergy power plants—loom large. We cannot afford any further clear-cutting of forests.

…As for the most difficult issue, carbon emission targets, that subject was essentially tabled. China and India’s proposal of using carbon intensity (carbon emissions per GDP output), which has not been entered into the international arena, may offer an equitable way forward for many nations. Creative thinking is needed to set goals for the first several years after the Kyoto agreement’s expiration in 2012.

…But the 2009 UN Copenhagen Climate Conference is a step—halting, lurching, for sure—toward the enhanced global governance we need to achieve a sustainable solution to the climate change crisis. Essential principles and measures towards that goal have begun to take shape.

Read the entire article from Rodale Press.

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