The Copenhagen Accord

UN Climate Change ConferenceThe Copenhagen Accord is the political agreement that heads of state negotiated on December 18, 2009, after intense and unprecedented negotiations. This voluntary agreement calls for all nations to reduce emissions and make new investments in clean energy technologies and practices, and calls on developed countries to provide assistance to developing nations in adapting to the effects of climate change. For up-to-date information on different countries’ commitments to the Copenhagen Accord, visit the UNFCCC web site.

Summary of the Copenhagen Accord

Although not a legally binding treaty, this international voluntary agreement:

  • Recognizes the need to prevent global temperatures from exceeding 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels;

  • Captures the significant actions taken by all key countries to reduce their emissions through reports to the United Nations and monitors these climate mitigation efforts by including new transparency requirements;

  • Proposes reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation as an essential climate change mitigation mechanism;

  • Calls for U.S. $30 billion for the 2010-2012 period to jump-start efforts in the developing world to mitigate emissions and adapt to climate change impacts;

  • Sets a goal of allocating U.S. $100 billion per year from a variety of sources by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries in adapting to climate impacts, preventing deforestation, and adopting clean energy technologies.

What are next steps?

The legal status of the Copenhagen Accord remains unclear. Achieving consensus depends on the ability of countries to merge this political agreement with the treaty negotiations underway since 2007.

The United States has a major contribution to make. NWF applauds President Obama's personal leadership in Copenhagen, but the U.S. must complete domestic climate and energy legislation to solidify its current pledge to achieve an international agreement that reduces global emissions required to tackle climate change.

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