Was the climate summit in Copenhagen worth the two years of preparation and expense, or just another wasted exercise in over-hyped bloviating by bureaucrats and their heads of state?
Make no mistake, this summit was worth the effort. Despite less-than-ideal results, the world is better off than if the summit hadn't taken place. Instead of sputtering to an inconclusive halt, as was feared toward the summit's end last week, the meeting produced an agreement that lays the groundwork for meaningful international cooperation to combat the worst effects of global warming over the next 20 years at least.
Thanks in part to President Obama's marathon negotiations with China and other reluctant nations late last week, an agreement was struck between key nations to reduce emissions enough to keep temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels for two decades, submit to a verification process on emission reductions and have First World countries contribute billions of dollars over time to help Third World countries transition to clean energy development and cope with the ill effects of global warming.
The catch is that, at this stage, it's a nonbinding agreement. But, importantly, China, the world's biggest greenhouse gas producer (the United States is second), has signed on to the agreement in principle, a first for China and a major step in the global fight against climate change.
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