What Was China's Role at Copenhagen?
The German Marshall Fund - Brussels Forum 2010
The world is still trying to make sense of the mixed and messy outcome of the December 2009 Copenhagen climate change summit. After two weeks of often bitter and chaotic negotiations, the conference produced only a nonbinding political agreement. The "Copenhagen Accord" helped avert a collapse in the international negotiations, but it failed to live up to the expectations of some participants, notably those from Europe, which had hoped for an ambitious new treaty. The conference revealed both the growing assertiveness of major developing economies like China and India and their reluctance to be part of a multilateral effort to reduce emissions. It showed the limited leverage of the European Union, which has been a leader on climate change. It revealed imperfections within the UN process, where decisions must be reached by consensus, even though negotiations in other forums outside the United Nations would not overcome the fundamental differences between countries. The murky outlook of the international climate talks is also mirrored by new uncertainty over the future of U.S. domestic climate policy now that efforts to pass a comprehensive climate and energy bill are stalled in the Senate.