Saturday, December 19, 2009

US intransigence caps Copenhagen fiasco

If anyone should shoulder the blame for the failure of the UN Climate Change conference to conclude with a legally binding and effective deal it is President Obama.

Other countries had made or been ready to make concessions, even though no-one did enough to secure the measures required to avoid a temperature rise of at least 3 degrees Celsius.

China conceded that it would no longer seek financial support from rich countries to help it reduce its emissions. But when it saw no new US measures on the table, it felt no compunction to accept independent monitoring of its emission reduction efforts.

The EU had agreed a unilateral 20 per cent emissions cut by 2020 on 1990 levels and offered to raise this to 30 per cent if other rich countries did more. It also promised to pay its “fair share” of a global total of €22-50 billion in international public money.

The UK seems unwilling to criticise the US, putting a brave face on the fact that Obama came to Copenhagen at all.

The text agreed so far contains only an aspiration to provide $100bn by 2020, with no certainty about how much is public money from rich countries. The money may largely come from carbon trading - a volatile, unpedictable market.

Lumumba Di-Aping (Sudanese leader of G77) compared the Copenhagen Accord proposed to the Holocaust and to asking African people to sign the suicide pact.

Tuvalu and other threatened states are very bitter about lack of transparency - the text had been agreed before midnight by a small group of countries (25-10-5 countries, including US and EU) and brought to the plenary.

There is no tight deadline to convert the deal into a legally-binding agreement - so no sense of urgency.

After two years of wrangling and stalling - what a tragedy for the most vulnerable nations and the whole world.

The governments of the world have behaved like irresponsible schoolchildren who had to prepare for an important exam but left everything to the last minute and failed the exam, rather than like responsible custodians of the planet.

What a betrayal of our trust.

What does the Accord say?

Targets: no mitigation targets for 2020 or 2050
The document mentions pledges already made by some parties. Other countries can write their intentions into the scheme in the document before 1 February 2010.

- long term finance: 100 bln USD each year by 2020 repeated, no concrete pledges. The money should go from public and private sources.

- short term finance 2010-12
10,6 bilion USD - UE
11 bln USD - Japan
3,6 bln USD - US

Verification/control: control wording taken out. Big developing countries have to report their emissions every second year, some kind of international surveillance but at the same time "respecting national sovereignty".

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