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CLIMATE CHANGE: Draft Accord Weak on Cuts, Funding

Servaas van den Bosch* - IPS/TerraViva**

COPENHAGEN, Dec 18 2009 (IPS) - Heads of state and government are working fervently Friday to complete an agreement at the climate change summit in Copenhagen, but texts coming out of their midst so far lack details on emissions cuts and long-term funding.

Civil society's message to the leaders meeting in Copenhagen. Credit: Ana Libisch/IPS

Civil society's message to the leaders meeting in Copenhagen. Credit: Ana Libisch/IPS

Negotiations – resumed after U.S. President Barack Obama’s speech failed to deliver any tangible targets – are likely to continue into tomorrow.

“While the reality of climate change is not in doubt, I have to be honest, as the world watches us today, I think our ability to take collective action is in doubt right now, and it hangs in the balance,” Obama observed.

The latest draft accord to emerge at the 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change suggests extending the mandate of the LCA and KP working groups to continue discussions, but so far major sticking points between developed and developing countries are not being worked out.

In the latest text the door is left open for a long-term goal of a maximum 1.5 degree rise in global warming to be adopted after 2016 when the agreement is reviewed. Till then, the leaders stick to the two degree temperature threshold spelled out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

No agreement has been reached yet on the amount by which overall emissions should be reduced before 2020, but an overall 50 percent cut by 2050 was adopted. Annex I countries will talk measures to reduce cuts by 80 percent by 2050.

Both developing and developed countries underline the need for emissions to peak ‘as soon as possible’, stressing that this will take more time in developing nations, where poverty eradication and economic growth are the first priorities.

The agreement highlights the need to measure carbon emissions per capita, mentioning “the right to equitable access to atmospheric space”. This point was very important for countries like China and India with large populations.

Other than a $30 billion start-up fund for the period 2010-2012, there are no hard commitments to funding for adaptation and mitigation.

An amount of 100 billion dollars per year by 2020 is proposed for this, but it is unclear how the money will be gathered. On Thursday Friends of the Earth said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s announcement of this figure was “inadequate.”

“We are not sure where the money is coming from; is it public, private, is it self-financing by the developing countries, is it from WB (World Bank) and IMF as well? We should have truly public finance coming from the U.S. as well as other Annex 1 countries, no strings attached.”

Developing countries’ demands for the creation of a new multilateral fund to administer and disperse funding under the Convention has been met with the establishment of the ‘Copenhagen Climate Fund’. Governance of the fund will be shared equally among developing and industrial countries. A Technology Mechanism will be started to accelerate development and transfer of technology.

Mitigation actions by developing countries are required, but not spelled out, and a REDD Plus (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries) mechanism is endorsed.

There is no mention of women’s rights, or the rights of indigenous peoples, nor is there clarity about the controversial issue of intellectual property rights. The U.S. and China still disagree on the issue of monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV), while the other parties have agreed this should be ‘rigorous, robust and transparent’.

The draft of the ‘Copenhagen Accord’ was supposed to be submitted for discussion in the plenary at 6:00 PM local time on Friday, but this deadline passed as discussions continued.

Civil society organisations were still speaking of a “failure” in Copenhagen. “I’m not surprised that Copenhagen failed. It was the U.S. goal to obstruct any forward progress here. There is little changed from the Bush to the Obama administrations,” Anne Petermann, co-director of the U.S.-based Global Justice Ecology Project, told TerraViva.

Negotiators from developing countries remained critical about the lack of detail on funding.

“The amount of funding that will be provided to developing countries, especially the most vulnerable, to adapt to climate change as well as to adopt mitigation methods, still needs to be worked out,” said Sri Lankan U.N. ambassador Palitha Kohona. “You can’t expect to provide a pittance and also require them to make the changes, it just won’t work. We’ll need to have adequate sums so that these countries can make the changes necessary.”

“Ten billion dollars a year is a joke,” fumed Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez. “The military expenditure of the U.S. is 700 billion dollars per year,” he told the plenary session. “If the climate were a bank it would have been saved already.”

* Claudia Ciobanu and Rajiv Fernando contributed to this report. **This story appears in the IPS TerraViva online daily published for the U.N. Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen.

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