First steps can be frustrating. The climate accord reached early last Saturday morning in Copenhagen is a first step toward achieving a comprehensive, enforceable agreement among members of the United Nations. But while the accord furthers the dialogue of influential players such as China, India, Brazil, the EU and the U.S., it fails to come through with specific targets for the reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions. Instead, it contains a vague promise to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Feelings were mixed about the end results of the summit. Gordon Brown described the negotiations as "frustrating” and the Obama administration hailed the meeting as an “important breakthrough.” Most notable among the accord’s successes: A commitment by wealthier countries to provide an annual fund of $100 billion by 2020 to countries who do not have the financial resources to develop their industries. With little to no financial backing, these countries must simultaneously follow ever stricter environmental regulations.
Balancing the needs of developing versus developed nations has been a sticking point at previous climate summits. Developing nations have been hesitant to sign an agreement that may cripple their economic advancement. Industrialized nations, on the other hand, have been disdainful of granting more achievable emissions restrictions to their less developed neighbors.