On Dec. 12 2009, world leaders gather to discuss a global plan to combat change that will replace the current Kyoto Protocol. To most environmentalists, this is our last chance to come up with a concrete plan and to actually work on it, as continuing current greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions rates will lead to a point of no return, such as the melting of permafrost in the Poles.
Sadly, the chance that the Copenhagen deliberations will fail is all too high. After all, the U.S., still does not have climate-change legislation and developing countries rely on rich nations to help them slash emissions. Powerful interest groups who will be harmed by a deal to cut carbon emissions, like oil workers and agribusinesses (who worry the abandonment of not-so-green corn ethanol), relentlessly campaign to block government action and influence the negotiations at Copenhagen.
There are a number of possible outcomes of Copenhagen. The worst case scenario is that the talks might derail completely, with leaders storming out in a huff, and effectively dooming our planet.
Then, there's the other extreme. We might actually come up with a comprehensive plan that really combats global warming, with all the necessary changes- electric cars, wind power, green technology transfers, etc. with a punishment of crippling sanctions to noncompliant signatories. The challenges then would come from failure to implement these changes due, perhaps to corruption and mismanagement.
Realistically, however, what might result from the negotiations is a treaty that occupies the middle ground, with just enough emissions cuts to appease greens, yet with numerous concessions, conditions and enough fine print to take the edge off the cuts. Such a deal won't be enough to combat global warming effectively. At best, this kind of treaty would buy us some time, delaying points of no return enough for us to revisit the issue again to come up with a better treaty. Given world leaders' track record on global warming, this is the most likely outcome of Copenhagen.
We can push our leaders to a better deal this December. Sign the hopenhagen.org petition at left. Then spread the word to turn up the voice for change. Two minutes is all you need. Earth needs you. Don't let it down.