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Guest Thinkers

Remembering (or Forgetting) Copenhagen

Three months after the Copenhagen Climate Conference’s failure to reach a legally binding global emissions-reduction deal, there hasn’t been much talk of what the next step will be. But the Europeans, for whom Copenhagen was the ultimate disappointment, are now trying to get back on track – with or without the rest of the world.

EU climate chief Connie Hedegaard addressed the European Parliament this week and urged the bloc to up the ante on their emissions-cutting goals, which have been set at 30 percent, contingent upon a similar commitment by other world powers. Hedegaard and a group EU states, primarily the UK, are ready to go forth alone and stop waiting around for other countries to make unlikely promises. If you want a job done right, you’ve got to do it yourself.

If the EU goes ahead with a pledge to cut emissions by 30 percent as opposed to 20, the bloc symbolically forgoes its faith in global climate change solidarity in favor of pragmatism and personal responsibility.

And it looks like Hedegaard wants that type of pragmatic game plan in the months leading up to December’s climate conference in Mexico. ‘It’s not going to be easy,” she said. “Nobody should be naive.” For the first time publicly, she and the European Commission have admitted that a strong global agreement is not likely to pan out this year –international emissions-reduction targets will be made at climate talks in South Africa next year at the earliest.


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