COP15: The (anti) climax
19 December, 2.30 hours: A few hours ago, around 30 countries agreed on a Copenhagen Accord. In a press conference for Washington reporters at the Copenhagen airport, US president Obama talks about ‘a meaningful and unprecedented accord’, but also about being ‘a first step’. It is not yet clear if all 193 countries will get a consensus on the accord. Dealing is going on and groups ventilated mixed reactions, ranging from ‘a historic agreement’ to ‘unacceptable’.
The 2.5 pages text produced just before midnight contains a list of target pledges up to now. Both developed and developing countries will have to submit their commitments before the 1February 2010, respectively in Appendix I for developed countries and developing countries in Appendix II.
The plenary COP-meeting with all 193 nations still has to decide upon the accord by consensus. This meeting will start shortly, and no one knows when it will end. The final decision could last many hours, well into tomorrow.
The positive side of the Copenhagen accord
- For the first time countries all over the world, both developed and developing countries, have decided on pursuing the 2 degrees target, and there are pledges by all countries. Before 1 February all individual pledges will have to be registered in the Appendices;
- There will be a legally binding agreement during the COP16 in Mexico, at the end of next year;
- There will be finance for mitigation, adaptation and forestry measures in developing countries:
US$30 billion for the period 2010-2012, and they have set a goal of US$100 bn a year by 2020;
- There will be an agreed level of verification of all figures, both with developed countries targets and – to a lesser extent – in developing countries;
- A Copenhagen Green Climate Fund is to be established, operating for the financial support of developing countries. A UN High Level Panel will control the distribution of the money;
- There will be an overall review of the accord by 2015.
The flip side of the Copenhagen Accord
- Despite efforts of (especially) the EU, which has a binding 20% target, the global accord is not yet a legally binding agreement. Some major decisions will be delayed to the next COP16 in Mexico;
- All present pledges add up to a temperature rise of about 3.5 degrees Celsius, which is clearly in the danger zone of climate change. Within a year, no major changes in that number can be expected, so it is not yet clear how 2 degrees can be achieved;
- Some countries will wait for each other to apply the conditional parts of their pledges. For instance, can the EU decide to raise its 20% offer to 30% on the basis of the accord? This decision may be postponed another year, but some legislation (like the European emissions trading system) cannot wait that long;
- The review year 2015 may be too late to curb the emissions. Global emissions must reach their peak ultimately before 2020.
The plenary COP meeting is now ready to decide. But will anybody dare to raise objections, now that CNN and other media have reported the accord? Also Gordon Brown and Nicholas Sarkozy have praised the accord loudly. G77 countries and the small island states still have large problems. In the morning we will know if these objections will hold.
Posted 22/12/2009 by Rolf de Vos
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