Monday, December 14, 2009

Final Week Of Turbulent Copenhagen Climate Change Meeting

Dec 14: At the start of what he called "the most critical week in global efforts to forge a new deal to curb climate change," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaking to reporters from the UN Headquarters in New York City, warned that the world stood at "the crossroads between a sustainable future and a path to catastrophe." He said, “Now is the moment to act. Seldom in history has a choice been so clear. We can move toward a future of sustainable green growth, or we can continue down the road to ruin. We can act on climate change now, or we can leave it to our children and grandchildren -- a debt that can never be paid, a poisoned legacy that threatens our planet and its people. I call on the world’s leaders to lead. Time is running out. There is no time left for posturing or blaming. Every country must do its part to seal a deal in Copenhagen.”

New draft negotiating texts were released on Friday, December 11, at the climate change conference under way in Copenhagen. The drafts are designed to move the talks forward; however, the United Nations stressed that they do not presuppose either a final outcome or its legal form. The texts released included: Chair’s Proposed Draft Text on the Outcome of the Work of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long Term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA, 7-pages); and Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP, 27-pages).

According to a release from the UN, "the texts seek to promote discussion on the broader picture of a possible outcome to arise from the gathering in the Danish capital before high-level government officials start arriving as early as tomorrow." Negotiators are currently examining the new texts and will decided this evening whether they are a useful basis for their further work. Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) said that "considerable progress has been made in areas including technology, adaptation and the prevention of deforestation." He said, “It is now also time to begin to focus on the big picture."

De Boer said he welcomed the announcement by leaders of the European Union (EU) to provide €7.2 billion over the next three years to help developing countries take action on climate change. He indicated that the amount pledged by the EU is nearly one-third of the $30 billion needed from 2010-2012 to help poorer nations cope with the impacts of global warming and plan for low-emissions growth. He said, "One of the things that has been holding [the Copenhagen] process back is lack of clarity on how short-term financial support is going to be provided to developing countries and the fact that Europe has now very clearly put a figure on the table will, I think, be a huge encouragement to the process.”

Among many other items the AWG-LCA draft calls for a long term vision saying, "a. Parties shall cooperate to avoid dangerous climate change, in keeping with the ultimate objective of the Convention, recognizing [the broad scientific view] that the increase in global average temperature above pre-industrial levels ought not to exceed [2degreesC][1.5degreesC]; b. Parties should collectively reduce global emissions by at least [50] [85] [95] per cent from 1990 levels by 2050 and should ensure that global emissions continue to decline thereafter: (c) Developed country Parties as a group should reduce their greenhouse gas emissions
by [75–85] [at least 80–95] [more than 95] per cent from 1990 levels by 2050. . ."

Regarding mid-term targets, the draft says, "Developed country Parties shall undertake, individually or jointly, legally binding nationally appropriate mitigation commitments or actions, [including][expressed as] quantified economywide emission reduction objectives with a view to reducing the collective greenhouse gas emissions of developed country Parties by at least [25–40] [in the order of 30] [40] [45] per cent from 1990 levels by 2020;" Note: numbers in brackets indicate options being considered.

Further the draft indicates, "Developed country Parties shall provide adequate, predictable and sustainable financial resources, technology and capacity-building to support the implementation of adaptation action in developing country Parties. . ."

After reviewing the LCA draft, Todd Stern, Special Envoy on Climate Change and Head of the U.S. Delegation said at a press conference that the U.S. agreed with some parts of the draft and didn't agree with other parts; however, he said, the "mitigation" section could not serves as a basis of negotiation because, "the U.S. will not do a deal without the major developing countries stepping up and taking major actions. It [the draft text] calls for developed countries to have legally binding commitments to Kyoto-type targets, but does not in any sense call upon major developing countries to set forth their own actions or stand behind them -- this is a basic element of a deal for the United States."

Access a release from the UN on the beginning of the final week (
click here). Access a release from the UN on the release of the draft texts (click here). Access the AWG-LCA draft (click here). Access the AWG-KP draft (click here). Access a video of the complete Todd Stern press conference (click here). Access the UNFCCC website for links to all documents and press briefings (click here).