COP15: Heads of State book their tickets
13 November 2009: The most important news of the past week was the announcement from several important Government leaders that they will show up in the Danish capital in December. This is definitely feeding some optimism about the Copenhagen outcome, after a week of negative signs from Barcelona.
A strong political commitment in Copenhagen by Heads of State will be a sound foundation for a legally binding agreement to be established next year.
US President Barack Obama said to Reuters that he will travel to Copenhagen, although conditionally: “If [..] my presence in Copenhagen will make a difference in tipping us over edge then certainly that's something that I will do."
Meanwhile, colleague-Heads of State gave even more security. Angela Merkel (Germany) will attend, Gordon Brown (UK) already made his announcement. All 191 heads (plus the Danish PM) have been invited, and at least 40 have promised to come. If other important heads will be in Copenhagen, Obama will in practice be forced to join.
Yvo de Boer, the Dutch head of the UNFCCC office in Bonn, has positioned himself as an important climate policy diplomat. Unlike his predecessors, he performs on stage, instead of just being the stage manager. He has learned how to deal with the press, how to arouse or please political leaders with statements and he really shows commitment. He plays the game quite well and his statements make sense.
During a short stay at his home base in The Netherlands, he said something remarkable in a newspaper interview. De Boer is convinced that Obama will announce some reduction target figure (17% between 2005 and 2020?), and even some finance from the US. That would really be a breakthrough.
World Energy Outlook
Another strong message was sent by the International Energy Agency, the energy association of OECD countries. In the latest issue of its yearly World Energy Outlook the IEA warned against a 6°C temperature rise this century if the reference path is not left. Leaving business-as-usual for a 2°C scenario will cost some 10.5 trillion dollars, which will be largely compensated for by lower energy bills. Every year of delay, however, will add another 0.5 trillion to the cost side of this balance.
G20: no commitment
Last weekend’s meeting of finance ministers with central bank managers of the 20 largest economies (G20) did not provide any news about the 100 billion Euros that are required to finance emissions reduction in developing countries until 2020. The lack of commitment among finance ministers leads to the conclusion that they will leave it up to their bosses.
The week ahead
On Monday, an intermediate pre-COP15 meeting will start in Copenhagen. Participants will be environment and foreign ministers of some 40 countries, leading 4-head delegations. No decisions are to be expected from this two-day meeting, but an inventory will be made about the status of the different topics, to give a head start on negotiations next month. See next week's blog for more details.
Posted 08/12/2009 by Rolf de Vos
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