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Nigel Sheinwald
Ambassador

Nigel Sheinwald

Nigel Sheinwald is the British ambassador to the United States. Prior to this he served as Foreign Policy and Defense Adviser to the Prime Minister from 2003 to 2007. ALL POSTS

World still better with the Accord

This week's response comes from Dominick Chilcott, the deputy head of mission for the British Embassy in Washington.

Q: Is the Copenhagen Accord a real deal? Are there any beneficiaries of this decision? What responsibilities do nations have going forward?

The Accord takes us some way along a path towards what the world needs - a stretching, binding agreement that will lead to a low carbon future. A very large number of countries, over a hundred, have aligned themselves with the Accord's goals and commitments. So we have a critical mass for the objective of limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius (or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

The Accord calls on all countries to set out publicly the actions they are taking to tackle climate change and to constrain the rise in our planet's temperature. It introduces a monitoring and verification process to ensure those policies are put into effect. On the controversial issue of finance for the poorest countries, the Accord provides $30 billion in immediate funding to help them adapt to climate change and commits the developed world to finding $100 billion in long term financing by 2020. These tangible outcomes are certainly worthwhile.

That said, most countries, both developing and developed, agree that we are more likely to be able to protect the planet if all countries' commitments are legally binding. The UK will continue to work to rally all nations for a legally binding treaty.

In the end, even though it is not legally binding, the world is still better off with this Accord. That's not to say that everyone is pleased -- the UK wanted more and stronger commitments to action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But we had realized, for some time, that tackling global warming would be a journey, not something that would be achieved in one international meeting. This is a process that, for all its imperfections, is alive and continues to develop as people and governments around the world understand better the threat to our societies that climate change poses.

We are now on the "road from Copenhagen," to borrow a phrase from the British Secretary of State for climate change, Ed Miliband. The world will need countries strictly to adhere to their commitments and to work even harder to reduce greenhouse gas emissions more quickly, if we hope to avoid a greater than 3.6 degree Fahrenheit rise in global average temperatures. Developed countries will need to deliver the highest possible emissions cuts they can and financing for the poorest countries must start flowing immediately. In the months ahead, The UK will continue to work closely with its international partners, especially the US, to get the world on track to meet this goal.

By Nigel Sheinwald  |  December 24, 2009; 8:58 AM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg     Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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