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5 questions about the Copenhagen climate talks

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By David A. Fahrenthold
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 19, 2009

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What does the deal say?

It says that both industrialized and still-developing countries should make a common list of their goals for tackling climate change, and that there should be some international mechanism for checking up on their progress. It also makes a provision for rich countries to mobilize funding that would flow to poor ones to help them adapt to flooding, sea-level rise, droughts and other effects of climate change.

It also includes a vow not to let global average temperatures increase more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels -- something that leaders of industrialized nations had agreed to over the summer.

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What doesn't it say?

A good bit. It doesn't provide a sweeping successor to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which holds the signatories to strict cuts in emissions. That was the original hope for Copenhagen, but it had been abandoned weeks ago as unworkable.

In addition, it doesn't include a goal for reducing emissions worldwide by 2050. And it doesn't even set a specific date by which a new agreement must be reached, leaving the future of this process uncertain.


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