- Subscribers & Readers Note: Although we are on our Christmas-New Year's holiday break, we are issuing this special report to provide an update on the Copenhagen Accord completed early Saturday morning in Copenhagen.
Dec 21: Acknowledging that the climate change deal reached over the weekend in Copenhagen was not ideal for all nations, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon exhorted world leaders to act in concert to ensure that a legally binding treaty is reached next year. The "political" agreement was struck in the Danish capital on Saturday morning after negotiations had come to a standstill, with Secretary-General Ban intervening at the last minute to assuage nations which felt they had been excluded from parts of the negotiations.
The agreement, now known as the Copenhagen Accord, includes an agreement to working towards curbing global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius, efforts to reduce or limit emissions, and pledges to mobilize $100 billion a year for developing countries to combat climate change. According to a UN release, "The leaders were united in purpose, but they were not united in action." Ban told reporters today in New York today (December 21), “While I am satisfied that we sealed a deal, I am aware that the outcome of the Copenhagen conference, including the Copenhagen Accord, did not go as far as many have hoped.” The two-week-long United Nations conference in Copenhagen, attended by 128 heads of State and government, was marked by interruptions in negotiations due to divisions between States over transparency and other issues.
Ban outlined five key points of the Accord saying, "First, it commits countries to work to limit global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius. It also says that they will review this commitment in 2015 to take account of new scientific evidence. (He noted that the IPCC is going to try to release their fifth assessment report in 2014). Second, the Accord includes mid-term mitigation targets by developed countries and mid-term mitigation actions by developing countries.
"Third, countries have agreed on the importance of acting to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. This means we have finally brought the source of nearly one fifth of global emissions into the emerging climate regime. Fourth, the Accord agrees to provide comprehensive support to the most vulnerable to cope with climate change. Fifth, the deal is backed by money and the means to deliver it. You know that already $30 billion have been committed until 2012, and after that $100 billion annually up to 2020."
UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer said, "We now have a package to work with and begin immediate action. However, we need to be clear that it is a letter of intent and is not precise about what needs to be done in legal terms. So the challenge is now to turn what we have agreed politically in Copenhagen into something real, measurable and verifiable."
The Accord specifies that industrialized countries will commit to implement, individually or jointly, quantified economy-wide emissions targets from 2020, to be listed in the accord before January 31, 2010. Additionally, a number of developing countries, including major emerging economies, agreed to communicate their efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions every two years, also listing their voluntary pledges before the January 31, 2010.
Following his involvement in the agreement, President Obama issued a brief statement and answered a few questions at a press briefing. The President said, "Today we've made meaningful and unprecedented -- made a meaningful and unprecedented breakthrough here in Copenhagen. For the first time in history all major economies have come together to accept their responsibility to take action to confront the threat of climate change. . .
"Because of the actions we're taking we came here to Copenhagen with an ambitious target to reduce our emissions. We agreed to join an international effort to provide financing to help developing countries, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable, adapt to climate change. And we reaffirmed the necessity of listing our national actions and commitments in a transparent way. These three components -- transparency, mitigation and finance -- form the basis of the common approach that the United States and our partners embraced here in Copenhagen. . .
"In addition to our close allies who did so much to advance this effort, I worked throughout the day with Prime Minister Meles of Ethiopia, who was representing Africa, as well as Premier Wen of China, Prime Minister Singh of India, President Lula of Brazil, and President Zuma of South Africa, to achieve what I believe will be an important milestone. . .
"The time has come for us to get off the sidelines and to shape the future that we seek. That's why I came to Copenhagen today, and that's why I'm committed to working in common effort with countries from around the globe. That's also why I believe what we have achieved in Copenhagen will not be the end but rather the beginning, the beginning of a new era of international action. . ."
The next annual UN Climate Change Conference will take place towards the end of 2010 in Mexico City, preceded by a major two week negotiating session in Bonn, Germany, scheduled May 31 to June 11.
Access a release from the UN Secretary-General (click here). Access the official Copenhagen Accord posted by the UNFCCC (click here). Access the UNFCCC final press release (click here). Access the President's statement and press briefing following the deal (click here). Access pictures and a blog post of the President in Copenhagen (click here). Access the U.S. Department of State Copenhagen website for text and video of U.S. press briefings and various releases (click here). Access the UNFCCC website for links to all documents and videos of all press briefings (click here).