Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Copenhagen Climate Deal Shifts To Keeping The Pressure On

Nov 16: United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged countries to seize the opportunity presented at the climate change conference in Copenhagen to clinch a "political" agreement that will help chart the way forward on a new "legally" binding pact to combat global warming. Ban said, “Opportunity is knocking. It is up to you to open the door.” He was issuing a statement at a two-day closed meeting in the Danish capital to climate negotiators from nearly 40 countries who are preparing ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference set to begin on December 7, and run through December 18. The Secretary-General's message was delivered by Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Now that the pressure appears to be off to negotiate a "legally binding" agreement, and instead settle for a "politically binding" framework [
See WIMS 11/16/09], the parties are beginning to be concerned about keeping the negotiating momentum on to reach a legal agreement by some near future deadline. On behalf of the Secretary-General, de Boer said, "Copenhagen will mark a milestone in international efforts to build a more sustainable relationship with our planet. We must seize this opportunity to create a safer and more prosperous future for all, to reduce the emissions that are causing climate change, and to help the most vulnerable adapt to impacts that are already under way. From all corners of the globe, we see unprecedented momentum for governments to act quickly and decisively. Heads of State and Government are now directly involved in climate change discussions to a degree previously unimaginable even a few short years ago."

De Boer outlined what the Secretary-General indicated are the "essential elements of a Copenhagen deal" which he said there is "growing support from the highest levels of government" including: Enhanced action to help the poorest and most vulnerable to adapt; Ambitious emission reduction targets for industrialized countries; Nationally appropriate mitigation actions by developing countries with the necessary support; Significantly scaled-up financial and technological resources; and An equitable governance structure. He said, such a deal "can safeguard our common future while ushering in powerful new opportunities today for economic growth, enhanced security, and sustainable, climate-resilient development."

He said to the ministers gathered at the meeting, "The world is looking to you to transform those expressions of global political will into tangible outcomes in Copenhagen. The science, the future of the global economy, and the fate of the planet require no less. I applaud the progress that you have made in the negotiations to date. But core political issues remain unresolved. As Ministers, you have a key role to play. We need political agreement on the outline of a deal in Copenhagen to ensure that specific mitigation and adaptation actions can be swiftly implemented as of 2010."

He concluded, "The UN system, for its part, will continue to support governments in achieving an ambitious outcome. Similarly, the United Nations stands ready to “deliver as one” in helping Member States to implement adaptation and mitigation actions on the ground, drawing on the UN's global expertise in energy, water, development and other relevant areas. Let us work together. Let us seize this moment to make Copenhagen the success the world wants and needs it to be."

According to reports from Copenhagen, de Boer is pushing for a treaty to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012, within six months after the COP15 conference ends. Other observers and participants are fearful that negotiations may stagnate and drag on for years. According to media reports, some are saying negotiations may go on for years and years; citing for example the Doha negotiations on liberating global trade that after eight years of talks have still not come to a conclusion. Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists told Reuters in an interview, "It raises the specter of having a stalemate on the legally binding part lingering for years to come." He says Copenhagen must set a firm deadline for negotiating a treaty text.

On November 17, Danish Prime Minister Lars L√łkke Rasmussen speaking to the Ministers at the pre-COP consultations said, "Hard work and political will is the only way forward -- and it is not over yet. I am just back from a meeting with leaders gathered for the APEC Summit in Singapore. We had a very encouraging discussion. And we reminded ourselves of the mandates and the deadline set at Bali. I presented the vision for an ambitious, binding agreement in Copenhagen. An agreement providing for immediate and strong action within all areas of the Bali mandates. And setting us on track for a comprehensive legal framework. I am pleased with the positive response I got. Also the American President endorsed our approach, implying that all developed countries will need to bring strong reduction targets to the negotiating table in Copenhagen."

He continued saying, "My focus remains the real commitments we can obtain for strong and specific action, both in the short and in the longer term. Thus: Real action and a strong mandate and a time frame for further work on the legal framework to be concluded as soon as possible. . . The Copenhagen Agreement should be concrete and binding on countries committing to reach targets, to undertake actions, and to provide agreed finance. Of course, developed countries must take lead by delivering substantial reductions and finance. We need numbers on the table in Copenhagen."

The Prime Minister said, "So why not a legally binding text in Copenhagen? Because the time and the diverging positions of the parties, as well as the number of possible outstanding issues to be resolved, will not allow for it to happen. But that must not be an excuse for inaction. . . What about Kyoto? Is Denmark ready to sacrifice it? Again, the answer is no. Denmark is a party to the Kyoto Protocol and will remain so."

He emphasized a two-part process and said, "Denmark has set out the vision of “one Agreement – two purposes.” Firstly, the Copenhagen Agreement should have a solid content covering all the Bali building blocks: shared vision, mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology and capacity building. This will provide a strong impetus and guidance to further negotiations on a legal framework. Secondly, the agreement should provide for immediate action in all areas, including mitigation, adaptation and finance. Significant up-front finance should support early adaptation and mitigation efforts as well as capacity building and technology cooperation."

UPDATE: Obama & Hu Call For Comprehensive Copenhagen Agreement

Nov 17: In a joint press statement by President Obama and President Hu of China issued from the Great Hall in Beijing, President Hu said, "We agreed to expand our cooperation on climate change, energy, and environment. We also agreed to act on the basis of the principle of the common but differentiated responsibilities and consistent with our respective capabilities to work with other parties concerned to help produce positive outcomes out of the Copenhagen conference. The complementing departments of China and the United States have already signed a number of cooperation agreements, including the MOU to enhanced cooperation on climate change, energy and environment. The two sides have also officially launched the initiative of developing a China-U.S. clean energy research center."

President Obama said, "We meet here at a time when the relationship between the United States and China has never been more important to our collective future. The major challenges of the 21st century, from climate change to nuclear proliferation to economic recovery, are challenges that touch both our nations, and challenges that neither of our nations can solve by acting alone. . . President Hu and I also made progress on the issue of climate change. As the two largest consumers and producers of energy, there can be no solution to this challenge without the efforts of both China and the United States. That's why we've agreed to a series of important new initiatives in this area. As President Hu indicated, we are creating a joint clean energy research center, and have achieved agreements on energy efficiency, renewable energy, cleaner uses of coal, electric vehicles, and shale gas.

"We also agreed to work toward a successful outcome in Copenhagen. Our aim there, in support of what Prime Minister Rasmussen of Denmark is trying to achieve, is not a partial accord or a political declaration, but rather an accord that covers all of the issues in the negotiations, and one that has immediate operational effect. This kind of comprehensive agreement would be an important step forward in the effort to rally the world around a solution to our climate challenge. And we agreed that each of us would take significant mitigation actions and stand behind these commitments."

In the official U.S.-China Statement that was released, Item V indicates in part, "Regarding the upcoming Copenhagen Conference, both sides agree on the importance of actively furthering the full, effective and sustained implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in accordance with the Bali Action Plan. The United States and China, consistent with their national circumstances, resolve to take significant mitigation actions and recognize the important role that their countries play in promoting a sustainable outcome that will strengthen the world’s ability to combat climate change. The two sides resolve to stand behind these commitments.

"In this context both sides believe that, while striving for final legal agreement, an agreed outcome at Copenhagen should, based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, include emission reduction targets of developed countries and nationally appropriate mitigation actions of developing countries. The outcome should also substantially scale up financial assistance to developing countries, promote technology development, dissemination and transfer, pay particular attention to the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable to adapt to climate change, promote steps to preserve and enhance forests, and provide for full transparency with respect to the implementation of mitigation measures and provision of financial, technology and capacity building support. The two sides are committed to working together and with other countries in the weeks ahead for a successful outcome at Copenhagen."

Access a release from the UN (click here). Access the full text of the Secretary-General's comments (click here). Access a report from the Danish COP15 website on a possible stalemate in the negotiations and links to related articles (click here). Access the complete text of the Prime Minister's address (click here). Access the complete joint Obama-Hu press statement (click here). Access the official U.S.-China Statement (click here).