An international agreement in Copenhagen is undoubtedly crucial; but it is not pivotal
The Copenhagen Summit typifies the paradox of the globalised age in which we now live.
One the one hand, it is a crucial global event; the very fact that the summit is taking place, with the successive rounds of negotiation that buttress it, has further served to illuminate the political, economic, and moral, let alone climactic, imperative of radical emissions reductions shared across the world. The looming spectre of the summit and the onus placed on it by many in the climate change debate have served to foster and build consensus among the often disparate and divergent members of the international community, driving states and civic opinion together to support ambitious reduction targets.
And, yet, on the other hand, the summit is somewhat circumscribed. In recent days, one of the world’s most pre-eminent climate scientists, James Hansen, has argued that any of the likely agreements that emerge from the negotiations in Denmark would be so deeply flawed that it would be better to start again from scratch. “I would rather it not happen if people accept that as being the right track because it's a disaster track,” he says.
The question of whether and how an international agreement is reached at Copenhagen on a global commitment to carbon reduction is rightly an issue of the first order, not only for the reasons outlined above but for many more besides. There should be a great deal of optimism that a positive agreement will be reached – the international understanding of the necessity of radical emissions reduction has, after all, advanced considerably since the Kyoto summit.