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Climate change gets personal at Copenhagen

April 7, 2010

it's getting personal SOI

Copenhagen is more than the capital of Denmark. It’s home to Europe’s longest pedestrian street (the Strøget). It’s the birthplace of LEGO building blocks. And from Dec. 7-18, 2009, it hosted the next significant step in combating climate change as world leaders gathered to develop a new global agreement.

But the leaders weren't the only essential attendees. Thanks to the UN Foundation's It's Getting Personal campaign, we were able to represent regular people from around the world who wanted to share their climate change stories. Our aim: to show leaders, negotiators, and delegates how much climate change affects everyone's safety and well-being.

For three months we collected quotes, pictures, and videos on our Climate Board, all depicting the immediate and personal effects of climate change. Then we turned them 50 of the most compelling messages into a deck of cards, and delivered those decks to Copenhagen negotiators and delegates. That way, the people drafting the climate change agreement could understand how their decisions would impact other people worldwide.

So after all that planning, debating, and negotiating, what exactly happened at Copenhagen? Three big things:

  • All but five countries “took note” of the non-binding final climate proposal. And more than 100 countries, representing more than 80 percent of global emissions, have registered their plans to reduce emissions and combat climate change impacts already occurring (including rapidly growing economies such as China, India, Brazil, and South Africa). We look forward to the next climate conference in Mexico in December, when countries will reconvene to try locking the proposal down.

  • The United States, China, and India all pledged to cut their carbon output by 2020. The U.S. promised a 17% reduction in emissions, while China committed up to 45% and India set a 24% target in their carbon intensity. The difference? Carbon intensity measures the amount of energy used to produce one unit of economic growth, making it a comparable guideline for developing countries.

  • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the United States will help mobilize $100 billion a year by 2020 to address developing countries’ climate change needs. The funds will focus on adaptation (to cope with the impact of global warming) and mitigation (to reduce emissions specifically).

In this respect, Copenhagen has set the stage for progress on a number of key issues, such as deforestation and energy efficiency. We look forward to the December 2010 climate summit in Cancún, when the international community will build on the Copenhagen Accord and help make the world safer and healthier for everyone.