Local climate change expert reflects on Copenhagen conference

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The Copenhagen Climate summit is official over as world leaders accepted a 12-paragraph deal to take action on global warming. The deal, known as the Copenhagen Accord, was largely negotiated by U.S. President Barack Obama along with Brazil, China, India, and South Africa.

Local environmentalist Jerome Ringo was a member of the U.S. delegation to Copenhagen. Ringo calls the final agreement "bittersweet."

"We had hoped to walk away with a legally binding commitment," said Ringo. "We did not, but we did get commitments from enough countries, including the United States and China."

Ringo's role was to influence. Ringo met with members of other delegations. He also met with members of Congress, former Vice-President Al Gore and billionaire environmentalist Richard Branson.

Ringo says the real leadership of the conference came after President Obama arrived.

"He flew in on Friday and he basically walked into the negotiations and said to the other countries 'We will strike a deal' and the deal was struck," recalls Ringo.

The deal calls for developing countries to monitor emissions domestically, provides funding to countries to help preserve forests and sets a goal of limiting the planet's warming to no more than two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit).  Industrialized countries like the U.S. have also pledged to raise $100 billion each year by 2020 to help poor countries battle global warming. Some African countries had previously requested more money.

Though every country accepted the deal, many developing and European nations said the accord did not go far enough because it failed to include enough reductions in greenhouse gases emitted by industrialized countries like the U.S.  Some leaders of poor countries are now saying global conferences like Copenhagen are unworkable, because only wealthy countries get to come up with the final conference accord.

Ringo says he understands why poor nations feel that way, but he says it is good that progress was made toward fighting climate change, even if it was not as much as some would have liked.

"I think that with the commitment of our president and the administration and Congress and a commitment of leaders of nations all over the world, we recognize that the world is ready to step up to the plate to eradicate this most serious issue," said Ringo.

To learn more about the Copenhagen Climate conference, click here.

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