Stiglitz: Overcoming the Copenhagen Failure

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Here is our monthly installment of Joseph E. Stiglitz's Unconventional Economic Wisdom column from the Project Syndicate news series. Stiglitz is University Professor at Columbia University and the winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in economics. His forthcoming book Freefall will be published this winter.

Overcoming the Copenhagen Failure

By Joseph E. Stiglitz

NEW YORK – Pretty speeches can take you only so far. A month after the Copenhagen climate conference, it is clear that the world’s leaders were unable to translate rhetoric about global warming into action.

It was, of course, nice that world leaders could agree that it would be bad to risk the devastation that could be wrought by an increase in global temperatures of more than two degrees Celsius. At least they paid some attention to the mounting scientific evidence. And certain principles set out in the 1992 Rio Framework Convention, including “common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities,” were affirmed. So, too, was the developed countries’ agreement to “provide adequate, predictable and sustainable financial resources, technology, and capacity-building….” to developing countries.