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Copenhagen's Many Agendas

The UN's December 2009 meeting in Copenhagen is supposed to be the final negotiations on a new set of targetsfor international cooperation on climate change. Some countries view these negotiations as an update of the Kyoto Protocol's original emissions reductions, set to expire in 2012. However, the framework of legally binding emissionstargets for developed countries and none for developing nations is opposed by the United States, which continues to refuse ratification. As a consequence, many developed countries now are looking to create an entirely new framework. The two most controversial elements of the Copenhagen meetingwill be whether the Kyoto framework continues and whether developing countries will agree to specific binding commitments. The consensus among experts is that, at best, Copenhagen will provide a framework for further negotiations going into 2010 and beyond, though some are optimistic that the conference will produce agreements on important issues such as financing and deforestation. Senior Fellow Michael Levi writes in Foreign Affairs that one of the "biggest prizes" from Copenhagen could be an international agreement on a process for measuring, reporting, and verifying (MRV) greenhouse gas reductions.

Here are some negotiating positions of countries crucial to the process:

United States

President Obama has said climate change remains a policy priority for the United States--a close second to China in greenhouse gas emissions--but a host of other issues have competed for the administration's attention. With legislation passed by the House butstill pending in the Senate that would cut emissions by about 17 percent to 20 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, someanalysts are concerned about what the United States could commit to in Copenhagen. In late November, the White House announced it was "prepared to put on...

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