Copenhagen climate conference opening day, UN climate conference in Copenhagen, Copenhagen climate conference
Peter Dejong/AP
Activists are lit by red spotlights as they call on arriving participants for action outside the
Bella Center on the opening day of the Climate Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark,
Monday, Dec. 7, 2009.

Copenhagen Climate Conference Begins

December 07, 2009 12:35 PM
by Sarah Amandolare
The U.N. Climate Change Conference has kicked off in Copenhagen, where world leaders hope to make significant progress toward creation of a global climate agreement.

Day One in Copenhagen

Among the issues world leaders will address in Copenhagen are sweeping emissions cuts, especially in the U.S. and China, notoriously high polluters. Another major concern is settling on an aid package for developing countries to cope with climate change, a problem they feel “they did little to create,” Tom Zeller Jr. reports for The New York Times.

Despite new emissions targets announced by several nations, including the U.S., China and India, such pledges may not be good enough. Climate scientists recommend emissions cuts that would limit temperature increases to two degrees Celsius, Zeller reported.
Also vexing to certain environmental groups were covert meetings of “big players" in the negotiations held before the conference began. The meetings are rumored to have been focused on creating alternative climate treaties, “should efforts to resolve differences on the current text prove fruitless,” Zeller explained.

The Guardian will be live blogging throughout the first day of the Copenhagen conference, providing insider perspective on the scene.

Related Topic: Announcement that greenhouse gases threaten public health

According to Juliet Eilperin of The Washington Post, the Obama Administration will announce Monday that public health and welfare are endangered by greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide. The declaration sets up the option of “an economy-wide carbon cap even if Congress fails to enact climate legislation,” sources indicated to Eilperin.

Lisa P. Jackson, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), will make the announcement Monday afternoon. According to Eilperin, the “endangerment finding” originates from a Supreme Court decision in 2007 that ordered the EPA to ascertain whether the Clean Air Act qualifies greenhouse gases as pollutants.

Opinion & Analysis: A call for cooperation; A Skeptics Guide to Copenhagen

A recent editorial published in The Guardian demands progress and decisiveness from world leaders in Copenhagen. The editorial, republished in 56 newspapers throughout the world, states: “This should not be a fight between the rich world and the poor world, or between east and west. Climate change affects everyone, and must be solved by everyone.”

The Guardian goes on to describe the potential repercussions of a temperature rise of more than two degrees Celsius, and holds the U.S. accountable for stymied progress. “Even now the world finds itself at the mercy of American domestic policies, for the president cannot fully commit to the action required until the US Congress has done so,” the editorial reads.

President Obama will arrive in Copenhagen at the end of the conference. The State Department’s special climate envoy, Jonathan Pershing, represented the U.S. during opening day, according to Zeller. Meanwhile, “polls show the number of Americans who believe global warming is actually happening is at its lowest point in twelve years,” according to a video segment on NECN/ABC.

Tunku Varadarajan provides "A Skeptic's Guide to Copenhagen" on The Daily Beast. The sometimes snarky editorial is an A-Z guide covering terms and references related to the Copenhagen proceedings.

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