Copenhagen Accord

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The Copenhagen Accord was negotiated by the U.S. and 24 other countries in the dying days of the COP15 conference in Copenhagen in December 2009. The "accord" evolved from the "Danish text", drafted by the Danish government and the "circle of commitment". A copy of the draft "Danish text" was leaked to the Guardian at the outset of the conference.[1] The accord was not formally adopted by COP15 but simply "noted".[2] When the "accord" was presented to the COP15 conference, it was supported by a number of countries but formally opposed by Tuvalu, Sudan, Bolivia and Venezuela.

The development of the accord

CopenAccord.jpg

The final accord had its origins in the "Danish text", which had been the subject of behind-the-scenes negotiations for some time ahead of COP15.[1] The impetus for the development of the accord was the deadlock between those countries, mostly those most vulnerable to climate change, wanting to negotiate a legally binding deal in addition to the Kyoto Protocol and those, such as the OPEC countries, China and India, opposing this. However, a third block comprising the US, EU, Japan, Australia and Russia were proposing that there only be one agreement[3], which would result in the Kyoto Protocol lapsing.

In addition, for months the U.S. delegation had emphasised that they would not agree to a legally binding agreement like the Kyoto Protocol, which the U.S. Senate had vowed it would not ratify. Following the arrival of heads of government late in the second week of COP15, a "friends of the chair" group was formed to assist Danish Prime Minister Lokke Rasmussen in the drafting of a "political agreement" to present to the COP15 conference for adoption.[3]

Attending the meeting convened on Thursday night of the conference after a royal gala dinner were U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, French President Nikolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, the Prime Minister of Japan Yukio Hatoyama, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and Mexican President Felipe Calderon, and the chair of G77, Lumumba Di-Aping. While the premier of China, Wen Jiabao and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were invited, they sent representatives.[4]Countries involved in these negotiations included South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Grenada, Denmark, Russia, the Maldives, Saudi-Arabia, Mexico, Canada, Indonesia, South Korea, Sudan, Norway, Lesotho, Algeria and Columbia.[5] (There may have been others as well).

After several hours, there was agreement to promote a political agreement, with leaders delegating the negotiation of the details to ministers. With few details resolved, negotiations were once more referred back to heads of state. The following day, a series of bilateral meetings occurred over a series of revisions to the "accord". Developed countries insistence on "measurement, reporting and verification" standards were resisted by China. While negotiations were underway, U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton told a media conference that U.S. funding would be conditional on meeting their pre-conditions on issues such as transparency. "I want to underscore what I said: in the absence of an operational agreement that meets the requirements that I outlined [such as on transparency], there will not be that kind of financial commitment, at least from the United States."[6]

The BASIC group of industrialising countries -- Brazil, South Africa, India and China -- were wary of the proposed agreement. Reportedly, when meeting as a group, Obama gate-crashed it to negotiate further compromises. Subsequently, China also insisted on the removal of a 2050 commitment to a target of 80% reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Obama's media conference

Once the deal had been agreed by invited countries, Obama convened a media conference of U.S. journalists and announced that a deal had been done, even though the proposal had not been presented to the conference at all.[4] At it Obama stated that "in addition to our close allies who did so much to advance this effort, I worked throughout the day with Prime Minister Meles of Ethiopia, who was representing Africa, as well as Premier Wen of China, Prime Minister Singh of India, President Lula of Brazil, and President Zuma of South Africa, to achieve what I believe will be an important milestone."[7]

At it, Obama claimed that "today we've made meaningful and unprecedented -- made a meaningful and unprecedented breakthrough here in Copenhagen. For the first time in history all major economies have come together to accept their responsibility to take action to confront the threat of climate change ... Going forward, we're going to have to build on the momentum that we've established here in Copenhagen to ensure that international action to significantly reduce emissions is sustained and sufficient over time. We've come a long way, but we have much further to go."[7]

In a review of why Copenhagen failed, the BBC's environment correspondent, Richard Black, wrote that "the Obama White House mounted a surgical strike of astounding effectiveness (and astounding cynicism) that saw the president announcing a deal live on TV before anyone - even most of the governments involved in the talks - knew a deal had been done. The news went first to the White House lobby journalists travelling with the president. With due respect, they are not as well equipped to ask critical questions as the environment specialists who had spent the previous two weeks at the Bella Center. After the event, of course, journalists pored over the details. But the agenda had already been set; by the time those articles emerged, anyone who was not particularly interested in the issue would have come to believe that a deal on climate change had been done, with the US providing leadership to the global community."[8]

The Fallout From Obama's Media Moment

Even though the conference had not voted on the proposal, Obama told journalists that "because of weather constraints in Washington I am leaving before the final vote". Writing for FT.com, Ed Crooks, Fiona Harvey and Andrew Ward reported that in so doing "he left chaos in his slipstream. Many developing countries reacted with fury to what they saw as a deal imposed on them by the most powerful. During dramatic discussions in the UN's main meeting room, which went on as the sun rose on Saturday morning, one Venezuelan representative cut her own hand to illustrate how the blood of the poor was spilled by rich countries."[9]

As part of the "accord", the countries involved in the negotiations had agreed on the wording of a proposed decision of the Conference of the Parties. However, for an agreement to be reached, consensus is required.

Danish Prime Minister Lokke Rasmussen introduced the Accord to the conference and proposed a one-hour suspension while countries met with their negotiating blocs. However, before the conference broke, Ian Fry for Tuvalu spoke strongly against the accord.Ian Fry, the chief negotiator for Tuvalu, said that "it looks like we are being offered 30 pieces of silver to betray our people and our future. Our future is not for sale. I regret to inform you that Tuvalu cannot accept this document."[10][11] Fry also later criticised Obama's announcement of the accord before the conference had discussed the proposal as "negotiation by media."[12]

He was followed by representatives for Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba and Nicaragua, all of which spoke against the accord and stated that they would refuse to agree to it.[9]

Despite the objections of some countries to the accord, others supported it. The European Union supported the accord, even though it had been been previously insisting on specific targets for 2020 and 2050.[13] With the accord accomodating China's demands, the unity of G77/China bloc had been fragmented. While Lumumba Stanislaus d'Aping of Sudan criticised the accord[14], other G77 countries and the African Union supported it. The Alliance of Small Island States, which had initially expressed concern about the accord, also endorsed it after discussions with Ban Ki-Moon.[15] Mohamed Nasheed, the President of the Maldives, was one champion of dramatic emissions reductions which urged the conference to support the accord. "We did our best to accommodate all parties. We tried to bridge the wide gulf between different countries. In the end we were able to reach a compromise," he later said. "The Copenhagen Accord is a long way from perfect. But it is a step in the right direction towards curbing climate change."[16]

The UNFCCC's concluding media conference

At the concluding press conference, Yvo de Boer described the accord as containing a "number of very significant elements" such as the specified temperature limit, the provision of financing, commitments on forests and technology transfer. However, de Boer was also open about the accord limitations. "But," he said, it is "not an accord that is legally binding. Not an accord that, at this moment, pins down industrialised countries to individual targets. Not an accord that, at this stage, specifies what major developing countries will do. Not an accord that, at this stage, makes it clear how the $30 billion it talks about is to be divided up amongst individual contributors."[17]

"So it's an important accord ... it has brought together heads of state and government from the north and the south, large and small countries ... but in all fairness, I think what you have to recognise is that what this has put in place is a letter of intent, an indication of a willingness to move forward, the ingredients of an architecture that can respond to the long-term challenge of climate change but not in precise legal terms. And that means we have a lot of work to do on the road to Mexico," de Boer said.[17]

The January 2010 deadline

In the first UNFCCC conference after Copenhagen, de Boer said that "we’re now in a cooling off period that gives useful and needed time for countries to resume their discussions with each other."[18]

De Boer said that he understood a number of countries would miss the deadline and, the New York Times reported, "he would not predict that they would ultimately submit their plans." "“Whether those countries do in fact decide to associate with it remains to be seen," de Boer said.[19] With a meeting of the BASIC group scheduled for January 24, de Boer was keen to allow countries more time to decide whether they would be "associated" with the accord. "I think you can describe it as a soft deadline, there's nothing deadly about it," he said.[20]

"If you fail to meet it, then you can still associate with the accord afterwards. In that sense, countries are not being asked to sign the accord, they are not being asked to take on a legally-binding target, they will not be bound to the action which they submit to the (UNFCCC) secretariat," de Boer said.[21]

"My sense, having spoken to about 15 or 20 countries so far, is that generally people want to reach a conclusion on the (twin negotiating texts) in Mexico and then they will be in a position to decide on how they want to package that outcome in legal terms," De Boer said.[21]

Key Provisions of the "accord"

While the accord has many features in common to many of the proposals under discussions ahead of COP15, includes several notable new specific details. These include:

  • a commitment to "mobilizing jointly $100 billion a year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries. The funds will come from a wide variety of sources, public and private, bilateral and multilateral." An annex to the agreement notes that funding pledges for 2010-2012 included $10.6 billion from the European Union, $11 billion from Japan and $3.6 billion from the U.S.".[22]
  • states that "delivery of reductions and financing by developed countries will be measured, reported and verified in accordance with existing and any further guidelines adopted by the Conference of the Parties, and will ensure that accounting of such targets and finance is rigorous, robust and transparent. "
  • acknowledges the "the scientific view that the increase in global temperature should be below 2 degrees Celsius" and states that "we agree that deep cuts in global emissions are required according to science, and as documented by the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report with a view to reduce global emissions so as to hold the increase in global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius, and take action to meet this objective consistent with science and on the basis of equity."
  • Annex I Parties developed countries agreed to submit "quantified economy-wide emissions targets for 2020" while developing countries "will implement mitigation actions". Signatories to the accord will both submit their commitments and actions to the secretariat by January 31, 2010.
  • General agreement on "the crucial role of reducing emission from deforestation and forest degradation and the need to enhance removals of greenhouse gas emission by forests and agree on the need to provide positive incentives to such actions through the immediate establishment of a mechanism including REDD-plus, to enable the mobilization of financial resources from developed countries."
  • States that "a significant portion" of funding for reducing "emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD-plus), adaptation, technology development and transfer and capacity-building" should "flow through the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund." The "accord" states that "a High Level Panel will be established under the guidance of and accountable to the Conference of the Parties to study the contribution of the potential sources of revenue, including alternative sources of finance, towards meeting this goal."

Criticisms of the "accord"

Following the announcement of the "accord", it has been strongly criticised by a range of countries at the COP15 conference as well as scientists and non-government organisations. Criticisms of the accord include:

  • the process of the development of the accord was dominated by major industrialised countries and the largest carbon emitters of the newly industrialising countries. In particular, the final iteration of the "accord" was a deal done between the U.S. and China. 350.org founder Bill McKibben described it as "a declaration that small and poor countries don't matter, that international civil society doesn't matter, and that serious limits on carbon don't matter. The president has wrecked the UN and he's wrecked the possibility of a tough plan to control global warming. It may get Obama a reputation as a tough American leader, but it's at the expense of everything progressives have held dear. 189 countries have been left powerless, and the foxes now guard the carbon henhouse without any oversight."[23]
Alden Meyer from the Union of Concerned Scientists expressed concern that "the way the Accord was hammered out ... raises questions about the continued relevance of the whole United Nations negotiating process. While the UN process leaves much to be desired, and can allow small groups of countries—or even individual negotiators—to hold the process hostage for a time, it is not clear that replacing it with a less transparent process of deal-making among a handful of powerful countries will produce superior results, either in terms of overall ambition or equity."[24]
Oxfam International noted that developing countries delegations were insignificant compared to developed countries. "Powerful countries sent in big teams of people to do politics and business: Canada sent 183, Japan 134, the US 194 – Brazil 750, India 52, and China 233. Poor countries, most under threat from climate impacts, had small delegations – Chad 10, Haiti 7, and Dominica 4 - who could not possibly cover all the parallel talks and ever-changing texts. Rich countries applied pressure down the phone lines too: Australia, for example, leaned on Tuvalu and other Pacific islands to stop calling for a goal of keeping global temperature rise below 1.5C."[25]
  • it has no legal status as it has only been "noted" by COP15 and has been opposed by a number of countries;[26] Reuters noted that "a reference in an earlier draft to adopt a legally binding climate agreement by next year was missing in the final draft".[22] In a media conference, Obama himself acknowledged that it was not a legally binding agreement.[27]
  • that the commitment to keeping global warming below a two degree threshold is illusory as, based on current commitments, the UNFCCC estimate that emissions will result in over a three degree increase. The endorsement of 2 degrees as the threshold for "dangerous climate change" is increasingly at odds with the most recent science;
  • the rejection of the 350 parts per million and 1.5 degrees warming target promoted by the Alliance of Small Island States and many other countries. Instead, the accord adopts the 2 degrees target with the only concession to those arguing for a stricter target being a review "by 2015" of to consider "strengthening the long-term goal referencing various matters presented by the science, including in relation to temperature rises of 1.5 degrees Celsius". However, deferring consideration of this target for a further five years will make it even less attainable.
  • that is does not specify a peaking year for greenhouse gas emissions. The accord only states that parties should "cooperate in achieving the peaking of global and national emissions as soon as possible";
  • that there are no binding 2020 targets, only the compilation of a schedule of voluntary developed country targets. Oxfam International concluded that "with no global targets as a guide, and no criteria for calculating national fair shares, it calls for each country to submit its pledged cuts to a international list by the end of January 2010, but for information purposes only - nothing binding. And it sets no limits on countries buying offsets overseas instead of taking action at home. Such bottom-up approaches, driven by national interest – and lobbied by vested interests – will not drive the pace or scale of action needed."[25]
  • that the accord signals the imminent death of the Kyoto Protocol;
  • that important details of the REDD scheme remain unresolved, especially potential loopholes that could exacerbate deforestation;
  • the commitments to financing mitigation, adaptation and technology transfer are limited in scale.
The commitment by developed countries to "provide new and additional resources, including forestry and investments through international institutions, approaching USD 30 billion for the period 2010 - 2012 with balanced allocation between adaptation and mitigation" had been welcomed in principle but criticized for the lack of detail. Oxfam noted that "the Accord commits developed countries to providing new and additional resources approaching $30bn for the period 2010 –2012. This is welcome and will help meet the backlog of urgent adaptation demands and mitigation opportunities. But based on pledges made so far, the total falls short by $2bn per year, most of Japan’s funding is loans, much EU money has simply been re-pledged, and little has been committed as additional to the 0.7 per cent aid target promised since 1972. Further, there is no commitment to fund needs from 2014-2019."[25]
The accord commitment to "USD 100 billion dollars a year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries" also received mixed reviews. Oxfam International criticized the agreement on the grounds that "$100bn is only half the money needed" and that "there are no assurances that the $100bn will be additional to existing aid commitments. This means aid for education and health care could be diverted to pay for flood defenses. The $100bn will not all be public money. Unless climate cash comes from public sources, there are no guarantees that it will reach the right people, in the right places, at the right time."[28] While describing it as an "important step", the group pointed out that the accord "creates no specific obligations for countries, but it finally puts an initial number on the table. Yet there is no mention of how to raise fair shares, how funds will be divided between adaptation and mitigation, or how much will be predictable and public finance, rather than private finance through carbon markets. The Accord also calls for a High-Level Panel (para 9) to assess the potential of raising funds from alternative sources – much needed - but does not list those sources, or a timeline for concluding."[25]
  • that the governance of finance is uncertain. While the accord proposes the establishment of the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund it also states that funding could be provided by "international institutions", which is likely to be interpreted as bodies such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Oxfam International noted that "It is unclear how this mechanism is intended to relate to the mechanisms under negotiation in the formal tracks, but its governance must help deliver climate finance in a more transparent and democratic way – a commitment not established in the text."[25]

Response to the Accord

At the conclusion of the conference, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer sought to sell the "accord" as representing progress. "The world walks away from Copenhagen with a deal. But clearly ambitions to reduce emissions must be raised significantly if we are to hold the world to 2 degrees," he stated in a media release. "However, we need to be clear that it is a letter of intent and is not precise about what needs to be done in legal terms. So the challenge is now to turn what we have agreed politically in Copenhagen into something real, measurable and verifiable."[29] In a media release, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stated that "this accord cannot be everything that everyone hoped for, but it is an essential beginning."[29]

Other observers floated the prospect that it could be a long time before there is a replacement legal treaty to the Kyoto Protocol. Noah Sachs, a professor of law at the University of Richmond, wrote that "UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for fast action on a treaty, but will the key players want to run this marathon again within a year? The G-77 as a negotiating block is in a shambles, there is deep anger by developing states directed at China and other developing states, and the UNFCCC secretariat is widely seen as inept as a conference organizer." Instead, he suggested that the failure of COP15 may trigger a "a shift from an era of treaties (1992-2009), where addressing climate change was grounded in international law, to an era when climate change is addressed through national pledges with no binding international arrangements. Based on what happened in Copenhagen, it could be many years before we see a new global climate treaty, and possibly a decade before any new treaty enters into force."[30]

U.S. Senator John Kerry, who is promoting the Senate version of the Waxman-Markey Climate Bill, stressed the importance of reaching an agreement which had the support of China. "You had to have some deal where the major emitters are beginning to reduce. Having China at the table is the most critical thing because most of our colleagues are saying, ‘Well what about China, what about China, if they don’t do it, it won’t make any difference.'"[31]

Response of Political leaders to the Accord

  • "I think that people are justified in being disappointed about the outcome in Copenhagen. What I said was essentially that rather than see a complete collapse in Copenhagen, in which nothing at all got done and would have been a huge backward step, at least we kind of held ground and there wasn't too much backsliding from where we were. It didn't move us the way we need to. The science says that we've got to significantly reduce emissions over the next - over the next 40 years. There's nothing in the Copenhagen agreement that ensures that that happens. ... And we were able to at least agree on non-legally binding targets for all countries - not just the United States, not just Europe, but also for China and India, which, projecting forward, are going to be the world's largest emitters." Barack Obama.[32]
  • "Let's be honest, this is not a perfect agreement, it will not solve the climate pressures, the climate threat to mankind," said Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt;[33]
  • "This accord is better than no accord, (but) it wasn't a huge step ... The level of ambition is not what we were hoping for," said Jose Manuel Barroso, head of the EU commission;[33]
  • "the only alternative to an agreement would have been a failure," said German Chancellor Angela Merkel;[33]
  • "The agreement is not perfect but it's the best one possible," said French President Nicolas Sarkozy;[33]
  • "We recognise there could have been more ambition in parts of this agreement. Therefore we have got to drive forward as hard as we can towards both a legally binding treaty and that ambition," said UK's Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband.[34] He also wrote in an opinion column that "we did not get an agreement on 50 percent reductions in global emissions by 2050 or on 80 percent reductions by developed countries. Both were vetoed by China, despite the support of a coalition of developed and the vast majority of developing countries."[35]
  • "We have made a start. I believe that what we need to follow up on quickly is ensuring a legally binding outcome," said UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.[34]
  • "These are hard-won results made through joint efforts of all parties, which are widely recognized and should be cherished," said Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.[36]
  • The Pope criticised the "economic and political resistance" to the negotiation of a new treaty. "I trust that in the course of this year ... it will be possible to reach an agreement for effectively dealing with this question ... To cultivate peace, one must protect creation! ... The protection of creation is not principally a response to an aesthetic need, but much more to a moral need, inasmuch as nature expresses a plan of love and truth which is prior to us and which comes from God," he said. (The Vatican is a member of the United Nations and has ratified the Kyoto Protocol).[37]
  • Mohamed Nasheed, the President of the Maldives, who had championed a target of 350 parts per million and a maximum temperature increase of 1.5 degrees, has defended the accord. "If we had not achieved anything, it would have destroyed many things, including the relevance and legitimacy of the United Nations itself ... The accord has the potential to evolve into a clearly legally binding agreement within 2010. The accord contained important benchmarks, including keeping the global temperature rise within two degrees Celsius, a commitment by all countries to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, and creating a fund for adaptation," he said.[38] (However, in a January 2010 speech at The World Future Energy Summit Nasheed was less upbeat. "The Copenhagen Accord, in its current form, will not prevent catastrophic climate change. Our challenge this year, and next, is therefore to strengthen the Accord so it becomes a blueprint for planet - saving action ... the vast majority of world leaders are determined to strengthen the Copenhagen Accord. When they do, market failures will be corrected and carbon pollution will be properly penalised."[39]

NGO Reactions to the Accord

International Groups

  • Bill McKibben from 350.org stated that "this is a declaration that small and poor countries don't matter, that international civil society doesn't matter, and that serious limits on carbon don't matter. The president has wrecked the UN and he's wrecked the possibility of a tough plan to control global warming. It may get Obama a reputation as a tough American leader, but it's at the expense of everything progressives have held dear. 189 countries have been left powerless, and the foxes now guard the carbon henhouse without any oversight."[40]
  • Greenpeace International stated that "The city of Copenhagen is a climate crime scene tonight, with the guilty men and women fleeing to the airport in shame. World leaders had a once in a generation chance to change the world for good, to avert catastrophic climate change. In the end they produced a poor deal full of loopholes big enough to fly Air Force One through.As the total amount of pledges will probably result in emissions reductions far below 20%, we are on track for more than 3°C temperature rise (compar ed to pre-industrial), while at the same time the document itself recognises the scientific view that temperature increase should be kept below 2°C. This weak ambition is unacceptable. Industrialised countries are clearly refusing to accept responsibility for their role in causing climate change. Combined with existing loopholes, emissions reductions in industrialised countries would be little below a business-as-usual approach. However, given that the final deal is not yet done, these figures are potentially still open to improvement."[41]
  • Friends of the Earth International stated that "Today rich countries led by the United States are pressuring poorer nations to ditch the UN process and sign onto the Copenhagen Accord. They are threatening poor nations that refuse to sign on with the loss of their share of the $100 billion that rich countries have pledged to compensate for climate impacts the rich countries themselves have caused."[42]
  • Oxfam International's Jeremy Hobbs stated that "The deal is a triumph of spin over substance. It recognizes the need to keep warming below 2 degrees but does not commit to do so. It kicks back the big decisions on emissions cuts and fudges the issue of climate cash."[28]
  • Birdlife International's John Lanchbery stated that the accord "sounds very vague. There's no next step, nothing to link through to how to get a final deal done" and that it lacks the necessary targets. "... However the Copenhagen Accord does provide political context and shape, and forms a useful, if inadequate basis for negotations and agreement next year," he said.[43]

African groups

  • Richard Worthington from Earthlife Africa said of the accord that "we have got something which is very disappointing, and nowhere near what we were hoping for."[44]

Australian groups

  • David Spratt, the co-author of Climate Code Red, and Damien Lawson wrote that "The Copenhagen Accord could not be further from what civil society, along with most developing countries sought to achieve at this conference. There is no Fair, Ambitious and legally-Binding deal. Instead it is a non-legally-binding three page document, drafted by United States, China, India, Brazil, Ethiopia and South Africa that says little beyond what had been discussed at previous international meetings."[45]

Indian groups

  • Sunita Narain, the director of Centre for Science and Environment stated that "India should not sign and endorse the Copenhagen Agreement, says Centre for Science and Environment (CSE). The Accord is an extremely weak document, which deliberately forgives industrialised countries’ historical responsibility for climate change and worse, is designed for meaningless and ineffective action to curb global warming. It is a polluters’ accord. It will be disastrous for the fight against climate change and bad for India and the world ... The Copenhagen Accord allows industrialised nations to get away with a pledge-and-review system so that they can decide to set weak and inadequate emission reduction targets domestically and not be under international legally binding commitments. Developing nations like India gain nothing, but allow industrialised nations like the US an easy way out".[46]

U.K. groups

  • The World Development Movement stated that "countries have been right to resist the signing of the Accord. It would be better to accept the failure of this meaningless 'deal', than pretend that something has been achieved. The leaders of rich countries have refused to lead and instead sought to bribe and bully developing nations to sign up to the equivalent of a death warrant. Saying the Accord needs to be signed for the pathetic amount of climate aid to start flowing is nothing short of blackmail."[47]
  • People & Planet stated that "Fingers have been pointed at China for wrecking the deal by insisting on the removal of all binding targets. Others have accused the USA of never really wanting a strong deal and making China the fall guy. Either way, the outcome is the same, this is a moment of great disappointment in our political leaders ability to tackle the challenge of climate change. But it’s not the end of the world! It’s just the beginning."[48]
  • Christian Aid's senior climate change advocacy officer Nelson Muffu stated that "This is a tragedy that will harm the many millions of people in developing countries who are already suffering the effects of climate change. We hoped that sanity would prevail but powerful nations didn’t come to negotiate. They came to play hardball. Lives will be lost as a result. Already more than 300,000 people a year die as a result of climate change. That number will go up."[49]

U.S. Groups

  • Christopher Flavin from the Worldwatch Institute concluded that "both in its ambition and in the weakness of its framework--an accord rather than a legally binding protocol--Copenhagen represented a significant step backward from the climate treaty process that began in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and was strengthened with the Kyoto Protocol which came into force earlier this decade. And because the accord was crafted by a handful of new and old economic powers, many saw it as a breakdown of the U.N. process and its need for consensus among 193 nations."[50]
  • Alden Meyer from the Union of Concerned Scientists stated that "the Copenhagen Accord is clearly a work in progress, with key details such as the emissions reduction targets for industrialized countries and emissions mitigation actions of developing countries to be filled in later. It is also a voluntary framework, with negotiations to continue in 2010 toward a legally binding instrument that would either accompany or supersede the Kyoto Protocol."[51]
  • David Doniger, a policy director of the Natural Resources Defense Council was enthusiastic about the deal. The Accord, he wrote, "broke through years of negotiating gridlock to achieve three critical goals. First, it provides for real cuts in heat-trapping carbon pollution by all of the world’s big emitters. Second, it establishes a transparent framework for evaluating countries’ performance against their commitments. And third, it will start an unprecedented flow of resources to help poor and vulnerable nations cope with climate impacts, protect their forests and adopt clean energy technologies,".[52]
  • Jennifer Morgan, the director of the climate and energy program at the World Resources Institute stated that "the Copenhagen meeting broke new ground in a number of rather historic ways. Never before have heads of state from nations in Asia, Latin America, Africa and North America negotiated an agreement, let alone one so complex as this. Although not specifically planned, it became clear when leaders arrived that their negotiators had been unable to outline even the key choices they needed to make, forcing heads to either engage in a much more detailed fashion than expected or accept no outcome. Luckily they decided on the former."[53]
  • Elliot Diringer, the vice president for international strategies at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, wrote that "These pledges are not binding. They are statements of intent, not obligation. But that is not what disappoints me. I never expected Copenhagen to produce more than a political accord. What troubles me is that governments did not resolve to move next to a legally binding treaty. That goal was part of the tentative agreement announced by President Obama. But then he left, and in final deal-making, it somehow vanished. The negotiations will of course continue. Governments agreed they’d meet next year in Mexico, the year after in South Africa. But with what type of agreement in mind?"[54]
  • Fred Krupp from the president of Environmental Defense Fund stated that "We have never been so close to having so many agree on so much. If anything was clear at the Copenhagen talks it's that the world is waiting for the U.S. to act. When it does, President Obama can knit together the historic breakthroughs obscured by the end of the Copenhagen meeting ... "A lot of hard work remains, but a lot of hard work is finished. The new positive steps taken here, many of them by developing countries, present the U.S. Senate and President Obama with an historic opportunity. When most of the pieces of the puzzle are in place, it's much easier to add the missing ones later."[55]

Text of the Accord

The accord states that:

"In pursuit of the ultimate objective of the Convention as stated in its Article 2,
Being guided by the principles and provisions of the Convention,
Noting the results of work done by the two Ad hoc Working Groups,
Endorsing decision x/CP.15 on the Ad hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action and decision x/CMP.5 that requests the Ad hoc Working Group on Further Commitments of Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol to continue its work,
Have agreed on this Copenhagen Accord which is operational immediately.
1. We underline that climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. We emphasise our strong political will to urgently combat climate change in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. To achieve the ultimate objective of the Convention to stabilize greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system, we shall, recognizing the scientific view that the increase in global temperature should be below 2 degrees Celsius, on the basis of equity and in the context of sustainable development, enhance our long-term cooperative action to combat climate change. We recognize the critical impacts of climate change and the potential impacts of response measures on countries particularly vulnerable to its adverse effects and stress the need to establish a comprehensive adaptation programme including international support.
2. We agree that deep cuts in global emissions are required according to science, and as documented by the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report with a view to reduce global emissions so as to hold the increase in global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius, and take action to meet this objective consistent with science and on the basis of equity. We should cooperate in achieving the peaking of global and national emissions as soon as possible, recognizing that the time frame for peaking will be longer in developing countries and bearing in mind that social and economic development and poverty eradication are the first and overriding priorities of developing countries and that a low-emission development strategy is indispensable to sustainable development.
3. Adaptation to the adverse effects of climate change and the potential impacts of response measures is a challenge faced by all countries. Enhanced action and international cooperation on adaptation is urgently required to ensure the implementation of the Convention by enabling and supporting the implementation of adaptation actions aimed at reducing vulnerability and building resilience in developing countries, especially in those that are particularly vulnerable, especially least developed countries, small island developing States and Africa. We agree that developed countries shall provide adequate, predictable and sustainable financial resources, technology and capacity-building to support the implementation of adaptation action in developing countries.
4. Annex I Parties commit to implement individually or jointly the quantified economy-wide emissions targets for 2020, to be submitted in the format given in Appendix I by Annex I Parties to the secretariat by 31 January 2010 for compilation in an INF document. Annex I Parties that are Party to the Kyoto Protocol will thereby further strengthen the emissions reductions initiated by the Kyoto Protocol. Delivery of reductions and financing by developed countries will be measured, reported and verified in accordance with existing and any further guidelines adopted by the Conference of the Parties, and will ensure that accounting of such targets and finance is rigorous, robust and transparent.
5. Non-Annex I Parties to the Convention will implement mitigation actions, including those to be submitted to the secretariat by non-Annex I Parties in the format given in Appendix II by 31 January 2010, for compilation in an INF document, consistent with Article 4.1 and Article 4.7 and in the context of sustainable development. Least developed countries and small island developing States may undertake actions voluntarily and on the basis of support. Mitigation actions subsequently taken and envisaged by Non-Annex I Parties, including national inventory reports, shall be communicated through national communications consistent with Article 12.1(b) every two years on the basis of guidelines to be adopted by the Conference of the Parties. Those mitigation actions in national communications or otherwise communicated to the Secretariat will be added to the list in appendix II. Mitigation actions taken by Non-Annex I Parties will be subject to their domestic measurement, reporting and verification the result of which will be reported through their national communications every two years. Non-Annex I Parties will communicate information on the implementation of their actions through National Communications, with provisions for international consultations and analysis under clearly defined guidelines that will ensure that national sovereignty is respected. Nationally appropriate mitigation actions seeking international support will be recorded in a registry along with relevant technology, finance and capacity building support. Those actions supported will be added to the list in appendix II. These supported nationally appropriate mitigation actions will be subject to international measurement, reporting and verification in accordance with guidelines adopted by the Conference of the Parties.
6. We recognize the crucial role of reducing emission from deforestation and forest degradation and the need to enhance removals of greenhouse gas emission by forests and agree on the need to provide positive incentives to such actions through the immediate establishment of a mechanism including REDD-plus, to enable the mobilization of financial resources from developed countries.
7. We decide to pursue various approaches, including opportunities to use markets, to enhance the cost-effectiveness of, and to promote mitigation actions. Developing countries, especially those with low emitting economies should be provided incentives to continue to develop on a low emission pathway.
8. Scaled up, new and additional, predictable and adequate funding as well as improved access shall be provided to developing countries, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Convention, to enable and support enhanced action on mitigation, including substantial finance to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD-plus), adaptation, technology development and transfer and capacity-building, for enhanced implementation of the Convention. The collective commitment by developed countries is to provide new and additional resources, including forestry and investments through international institutions, approaching USD 30 billion for the period 2010 - 2012 with balanced allocation between adaptation and mitigation. Funding for adaptation will be prioritized for the most vulnerable developing countries, such as the least developed countries, small island developing States and Africa. In the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation, developed countries commit to a goal of mobilizing jointly USD 100 billion dollars a year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries. This funding will come from a wide variety of sources, public and private, bilateral and multilateral, including alternative sources of finance. New multilateral funding for adaptation will be delivered through effective and efficient fund arrangements, with a governance structure providing for equal representation of developed and developing countries. A significant portion of such funding should flow through the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund.
9. To this end, a High Level Panel will be established under the guidance of and accountable to the Conference of the Parties to study the contribution of the potential sources of revenue, including alternative sources of finance, towards meeting this goal.
10. We decide that the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund shall be established as an operating entity of the financial mechanism of the Convention to support projects, programme, policies and other activities in developing countries related to mitigation including REDD-plus, adaptation, capacity-building, technology development and transfer.
11. In order to enhance action on development and transfer of technology we decide to establish a Technology Mechanism to accelerate technology development and transfer in support of action on adaptation and mitigation that will be guided by a country-driven approach and be based on national circumstances and priorities.
12. We call for an assessment of the implementation of this Accord to be completed by 2015, including in light of the Convention’s ultimate objective. This would include consideration of strengthening the long-term goal referencing various matters presented by the science, including in relation to temperature rises of 1.5 degrees Celsius."[2]

The accord also has two appendices: the first "Quantified economy-wide emissions targets for 2020" which allows participating Annex I countries to select their own base year and "Nationally appropriate mitigation actions of developing country Parties" for non-Annex 1 countries.

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

References

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  2. 2.0 2.1 "Copenhagen Accord", United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, December 18, 2009.
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External resources

Video of Key Sections of the COP15 Conference re the Copenhagen Accord

  • "UNFCCC", December 19, 2009. (Danish Prime Minister Lokke Rasmussen introduced the Accord and proposed a one-hour suspension while countries met with their negotiating blocs. However, before the conference broke, Ian Fry for Tuvalu spoke strongly against the accord. Fry starts at 6.08 and is followed by a representative of Venezuela.)

On Demand Video of News Conferences at the Conclusion of the Conference

External articles