[JURIST] While no legally binding agreement was reached at the conclusion of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP15) [official website] in Copenhagen, Denmark, 192 UN member countries agreed Saturday to “take note” [press release] of a non-binding Copenhagen Accord [text, PDF] developed by leaders of the United States, China, India, Brazil, and South Africa aspiring to limit the global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius and establishing a Copenhagen Green Climate Fund to assist poor nations in reducing the effects of climate change [JURIST news archive]. The Accord also establishes Annexes where countries will pledge, but not be legally bound, to national targets for emission reductions by 2020. UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon [official website] emphasized [text] the importance of turning the agreement into a legally binding treaty. Ban said:
The Copenhagen Accord may not be everything that everyone hoped for. But this decision of the Conference of Parties is a new beginning, an essential beginning…We have the foundation for the first truly global agreement that will limit and reduce greenhouse gas emission, support adaptation for the most vulnerable, and launch a new era of green growth.
The COP15 conference was originally designed to produce a global climate change treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol [text, PDF; JURIST news archive], which expires in 2012. Earlier this month, Ban announced [JURIST report] that a legally binding treaty should be ready in 2010. Before the opening of the COP15, however, Ban, US President Barack Obama and Director of the UN secretary-general's Climate Change Support Team Janos Pasztor [JURIST reports] expressed doubt that a legally-binding agreement could be reached during the conference. Negotiations on the new climate change treaty began [JURIST report] last year in Bangkok. In October, a UN official working on preparations for COP15 said US hesitancy to pass a climate bill could doom the conference [JURIST report]. The US never signed the Kyoto Protocol, but in March this year, the US Special Envoy on Climate Change announced [JURIST report] that the US under the Obama administration is committed to the creation of an international treaty designed to combat global warming, although he added that such efforts will only succeed if they are economically feasible.