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What happens in Hagen stays in Hagen

Jan 19, 2010

by Jihad Bitar, VIA Architecture

Recently, I’ve been having some trouble understanding what truly happened in COP15 (Conference of the Parties). Everything I have read or listened to thus far has described a piece of this elephant but nothing has given me any clear explanation of what really happened in Copenhagen. How successful was this expensive environmental party? How did it fail? Even the final accord fell short of what was expected from world leaders.

To make this post short, I’ll use the words of the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Yvo de Boer, to outline the issues that Copenhagen was supposed to address:

“The four essentials calling for an international agreement in Copenhagen are:

  1. How much are the industrialized countries willing to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases?
  2. How much are major developing countries such as China and India willing to do to limit the growth of their emissions?
  3. How is the help needed by developing countries to engage in reducing their emissions and adapting to the impacts of climate change going to be financed?
  4. How is that money going to be managed

If Copenhagen can deliver on those four points I’d be happy,” says Yvo de Boer. [source]

But Mr. de Boer wasn’t made happy because none of those essentials were discussed. Yet strangely, another accord emerged from a last minute meeting held behind closed doors between only 5 out of the 192 countries represented at the conference. These select countries include USA, China, India, Brazil and South Africa. Without getting too political, the key points of the ‘historical’ accord included:

  1. To keep the maximum temperature rise to below 2°C
  2. To list developed country emission reduction targets and mitigation action by developing countries for 2020
  3. $30 billion short-term funding for immediate action till 2012
  4. $100 billion annually by 2020 in long-term financing
  5. Reiterating past intentions such as providing mechanisms to support technology transfer and forestry.[source]

I believe that our environment is intricately related and directly affected by economics and politics so if we can’t figure out a way to utilize these elements to improve our pressing climate problems then nothing will ever get fixed.

I also think that as long as the price of oil stays low, all renewable and green energy resources, like wind and solar, won’t develop into easily usable and attainable resources that we’re expecting it to become. So unfortunately we may be doomed to live in a fossil fuel culture until the next international summit. Let’s hope that ‘what happens in Mexico 2010 doesn’t stay in Mexico’!