In the weeks leading up to the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, 55 African countries boycotted one of the planning sessions for the conference in Barcelona, Spain, until developed nations such as the US, China and European countries committed themselves to creating specific emissions targets at the Copenhagen summit. This one-day boycott enjoyed unprecedented support from developing nations in other parts of the world as well who feel that the rich countries, who are responsible for most of the greenhouse gas emissions, aren’t doing enough to combat climate change. Although the November 4 boycott was eventually ended by a brokered deal whereby emissions targets would be a main subject of work at the summit, the Africans repeated their demands and their intransigence actually at the summit in December. These countries’ objections were not without merit, as the Copenhagen meeting broke up without any hard targets on emissions and no agreement among the industrialized nations other than general statements of woe at climate change and supposed desires to combat it. The African boycott was but one of the many issues roiling behind the scenes at the talks, and could have been one of the reasons why the summit failed to achieve much of anything, but of course there are those who take the opposite view, that the failure was primarily that of the first-world nations to agree. Which side is right? That depends on your own point of view, but hopefully the first-world countries learned that the developing world does not have unlimited patience in working out a deal on greenhouse gas emissions.
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