Heated Topics

Emma Hughes and Thea Yagerlener

The failure to achieve a sound agreement at the Copenhagen Climate Conference has rattled many people. World leaders met in Copenhagen, Denmark between December 7th and 18th to discuss the urgent matter of climate change.

The United States drafted a resolution with China, India, Brazil, and South Africa. The United States government judged it to be a “meaningful agreement,” but it was not passed unanimously and therefore not adopted, although it was “taken note of.”

Many countries were displeased with the accord.

The European Union labeled both the conference and the accord a “disaster;” Great Britain said that the agreement needed to become legally binding before a sound decision could be made. But China was perfectly fine with the accord. “The meeting has had a positive result, everyone should be happy,” said China’s delegation at the conference.

The leaders of countries have the economy, public relations, and other issues to consider in a resolution like this. But the people of the world are simply concerned about their earth, and they feel that political leaders are not doing enough.

“I wish they had done more,” said Quentin Long, a senior at Community High School. “It’s really easy for them to say that there’s a problem and not do anything about it.”

“It’s one thing if you say that you’re dedicated to making the environment better and preserving the climate and making sure that the world is still around for our great-grandchildren,” said Melanie Langa, a sophomore. “I think that’s really great and that’s the first step, but I feel like so far we haven’t gotten to the second step, which is actually doing something about it.”

Being a science teacher and adviser for the Ecology Club at Community, Courtney Kiley is very concerned about the lack of effort that political leaders are giving. She feels that the larger, more developed countries like the United States and China are not taking responsibility for their emissions.

“I really wish that developed nations would act as a model for developing nations in terms of emissions and technology,” said Kiley. “We need to encourage the development and implementation of green technologies, and we need to do this now. I really wish political leaders would come out and declare that this is a global crisis. The politics of the crisis cloud our path to a solution.”

Langa feels that spending money on an issue like this is an investment worth it in the long run. “Countries aren’t willing to sign up for this and agree to be bound to something that they know is going to be a lot of work and requires a lot of change,” said Langa. “It didn’t succeed because people aren’t willing to take the next step and go forward.”

As other countries have expressed, the Copenhagen Accord is not effective in the way that people want it to be. “The outlines are broad and not severe enough,” said Kiley. “The developed nations agreed to cut 80% of emissions by 2050, but they don’t have a plan on how to do that. Plus, 2050 is too late! We need to do that now!”

Failure to come to an agreement was not only because of the severity but because of the structure and lack of dedication. “It would mean money and time spent from our government,” said Langa. “It would mean lots of change and it would possibly be inconvenient to the way they already do things. It’s hard but necessary to change, and it’s a change that needs to be made.”

“They didn’t come up with any kind of resolution for any of the nations to really stick to or more stringent than Kyoto,” said Kiley, referring to the Kyoto Protocol, a treaty made in 1997 to reduce global emissions. The United States was the only country without an intention to ratify it.

“Things such as the Kyoto Protocol and other worldwide initiatives can actually make an impact on the environment,” said Long. “If they keep doing things like that then they might actually be doing something.”

Climate change is an immense issue that affects everybody. We are near the tipping point from which there is no return. As it is an issue of severe gravity, it seems the political leaders are not doing enough. The conference in Copenhagen did not come to a resolution because of a lack of initiative and strict guidelines.

“It can’t just be a choice anymore to help the environment,” said Langa. “An effective resolution needs to happen quickly otherwise it’s not going to ever happen.”