Small Steps

Tense Accord in Climate Talks

As the headline-grabbing U.N. climate talks wrapped up in Copenhagen, participating nations signed off on an accord with good intentions and vague details, agreeing to “take note” of a pact pledging lower emissions. The accord was signed by nearly all of the 193 nations at the conference, but has left many disappointed by the lack of specific action or emissions goals in the agreement as well as the clunky process required by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Because of problems with the framework, future talks will likely involve a smaller group of delegates from 30 nations responsible for 90 percent of the world’s greenhouse-gas emissions. The talks were also marred by tensions between American and Chinese officials, and U.S. sources privately criticized Chinese emissions goals as insufficient. President Obama summarized the difficulties of the meetings in Copenhagen, saying, “This progress did not come easily, and we know that this progress alone is not enough.”