Monday, November 16, 2009

Copenhagen Climate Agreement Expectations Taking Shape

Nov 16: The Danish government website for the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 15) in Copenhagen, December 7-18, 2009, now just 20 days away, and Bloomberg news are both reporting that "What has been evident for some time was confirmed this weekend by world leaders gathered in Singapore. The UN climate conference in Copenhagen (COP15) three weeks from now will not yield a legally binding treaty, but a comprehensive political agreement at best."

President Obama and other leaders gathered for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC) reportedly backed a two-step approach proposed by Danish Prime Minister Lars L√łkke Rasmussen the host of the COP15 meeting. According to Bloomberg report, Rasmussen said, "Even if we may not hammer out the last dots of a legally binding instrument, I do believe a political binding agreement with specific commitment to mitigation and finance provides a strong basis for immediate action in the years to come." The report indicates that Rasmussen suggested the outcome in Copenhagen should be a five-to-eight page document with "precise language of a comprehensive political agreement." Negotiations to come up with a binding legal treaty would then continue into 2010 or possibly even beyond that.

In a Declaration entitled, "Sustaining Growth, Connecting the Region," adopted by the APEC forum, whose member account for about half the world’s economy, they said, "We welcome the Declaration of the Leaders of the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate in L’Aquila and the Leaders’ Statement at the G-20 Pittsburgh Summit [See
WIMS 7/9/09, WIMS 9/28/09], and reaffirm our commitment to tackle the threat of climate change and work towards an ambitious outcome in Copenhagen, within the objective, provisions and principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Global action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will need to be accompanied by measures, including financial assistance and technology transfer to developing economies for their adaptation to the adverse impact of climate change.

"We recall our Declaration on Climate Change, Energy Security and Clean Development in Sydney in 2007, which set out an APEC-wide aspirational target of reducing energy intensity by at least 25 percent by 2030. We applaud the efforts made by individual APEC economies that have unilaterally undertaken measures to reduce emissions. Sustainable forest management plays an important role in mitigating global emissions. We will enhance work on meeting the aspirational goal in the Sydney Declaration of increasing forest cover in the region by at least 20 million hectares of all types of forests by 2020. We support efforts in the UNFCCC negotiations to agree on actions to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) in developing economies. We recognize the role of the oceans in mitigating climate change, and the impact of climate change on oceans and coastal areas, and welcome the Manado Ocean Declaration.

"Responding to climate change through transition to green economies also offers opportunities. We will ensure that efforts to address climate change are consistent with our international trade obligations. A key thrust in APEC’s sustainable growth agenda is the APEC Environmental Goods and Services (EGS) Work Programme, under which we will develop and implement a set of concrete actions to support sustainable growth in the region, advance work to increase utilization and dissemination of EGS, reduce existing barriers and refrain from introducing new barriers to trade and investment in EGS, and enhance capabilities of economies to develop their EGS sectors. We also commit to rationalize and phase out over the medium term fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption, while recognizing the importance of providing those in need with essential energy services. We will review progress on this at our meeting in 2010. We will also take steps to facilitate the diffusion of climate-friendly technologies, including through economic and technical cooperation (ECOTECH) and capacity building activities.

"We will advance work on sharing best practices in energy efficiency with a view to deploying cleaner and more efficient technologies, and welcome the implementation of the voluntary APEC Peer Review on Energy Efficiency. We recognize the role of renewable energy in reducing emissions and encourage its development in the APEC region. We will encourage publication on a regular basis, timely, accurate, and complete data on oil production, consumption, refining and stock levels as appropriate."

The APEC leaders also issued a separate Statement entitled, "A New Growth Paradigm For a Connected Asia-Pacific in the 21st Century," which covered many of the same points in the Declaration, and also said, "Future growth must be compatible with global efforts to protect the environment and mitigate climate change. At the same time, efforts to address climate change must be consistent with our international trade obligations."

APEC’s 21 members account for more than 40% of the world’s population, approximately 54.2% of the world’s Growth Domestic Product (GDP) and 43.7% of the world trade. The APEC members include: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, People's Republic of China, Hong Kong, China; Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, The Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, United States, and Viet Nam.

Access the complete APEC 2009 Declaration (click here). Access the APEC 2009 website for links to additional information including videos, transcripts, releases, photos and more (click here). Access the main APEC website for more information and background (click here). Access the Access the Danish government COP15 website report (click here). Access the Bloomberg report (click here).