Sunday, December 20, 2009

The first step: the Copenhagen Accord


After two weeks of talks and hours of wrangling, world leaders delivered in the early morning of Saturday (19th December) the “Copenhagen Accord”.
Even failing to bring a binding agreement on tackling climate change, the Accord recognizes the scientific view that an increase in global temperature below 2 degrees is required to stave off the worst effects of climate change.

The collective commitment by developed countries in the Accord is to provide actions on mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology, reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries.

The accord calls to boost actions in the area by mobilizing financial resources from developed countries through the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund:

- to support immediate action on climate change the collective commitment towards the fund over the next three years (2010-2012) will approach 30 billion US dollars in order to help poor nations tackle global warming, reducing their emissions and embarking on a low-carbon path of development. The short-term financing will also be used to prevent deforestation.

- for long-term finance, developed countries agreed to support a goal of jointly mobilizing 100 billion dollars a year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries.
Money will be channeled to support different initiatives for adaptation, emissions reductions and technology development. A mechanism will also be established to intensify technology transfer.

Deforestation. A point on which all countries agreed, it was the crucial role of stopping deforestation. They agree on the need to provide positive incentives to such actions through the establishment of a mechanism including REDD-plus.

Adaptation. Funding for adaptation will be prioritized for the most vulnerable developing countries, such as the least developed countries, small island developing States and Africa.

Next steps

- The Accord sets an end-January 2010 deadline for all nations to submit plans for curbs on emissions to the United Nations.

- Annex I Parties will commit to implement, individually or jointly, quantified economy-wide emissions targets from 2020, to be listed in the accord before 31 January 2010.

- Non-Annex I Parties will implement mitigation actions by 31 January 2010. Their actions will be subject to their domestic measurement, reporting and verification while those actions seeking international financial support will be monitored by international verification.

- Least developed countries and small island developing states may undertake actions voluntarily and on the basis of support.

- A review. The Accord can be reviewed by 2015, on scientific basis, to find if the pledges listed by developed and developing countries are sufficient to keep the global temperature rise below 2 degrees or less. This would also take into account the long-term goal of limiting the global average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sprint finish

After the demonstrations by civil society held in the week-end with the aim to ask strong actions against climate changes, on Monday, delegates began this last, crucial week. In the morning the two AWGs considered the drafts proposed last Friday. The day was scheduled in contact groups and informal consultations. However, few hours later, the negotiations were suspended on the issues concerning the long-term cooperative action and subsequently on the Kyoto Protocol’s working group (apart from the group on further Annex I emission reductions). The African Group and LDCs, supported by G77 and China, abandoned the consultations asking for more attention on the future commitment of Annex I Parties. The deadlock between developed and developing countries continues to stop the negotiations. The situation was resolved in the afternoon by the President Hedegaard during closing consultations, leading to an agreement to hold informal consultations headed by a minister from a developing and developed country.

Meanwhile a large number of new participants arrived in Copenhagen, among them also a lot of celebrities!

A question of numbers


46,000 people had registered for the UNFCCC meeting, while the Conference Center that can take only 15,000 delegates

Monday, December 14, 2009

Climate REDI

Today, at the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen, US Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced a new initiative to help developing nations to adopt clean and renewable energy technologies: a new Renewables and Efficiency Deployment Initiative (Climate REDI).
The combined budget would be equal to $350 million; the US will contribute with $85 million to the five-year effort. Other contributor countries will include: Australia, UK, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.

For more information see:
The White House,Office of the Press Secretary - Fact Sheet: Clean Energy Technology Announcements December 14, 2009
The Phoenix Sun - DOE: $350 Million Push for Clean Energy in Developing World December 14, 2009
Google news - US plan to deliver clean energy to poor countries December 14, 2009

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

All night long


Today, at the closing of the first negotiation week in Copenhagen, two progressing draft documents have been released by the AWG-LCA and AWG-KP.

Let’s sum up the key points of the proposed texts starting with AWG-LCA.
- Mitigation. Parties have on the table a proposal stating that global average temperature above pre-industrial levels should not exceed 2 or even 1.5°C. As a consequence, emission reduction effort required in developed countries could be increased up to 95% from 1990 levels by 2050.
- Revision of the long-term global goal for emission reduction. A first comprehensive review should take place in 2016 based on the findings presented in the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report.
- Emission reduction in developed countries [primarily] through domestic action. The word “primarily” means that it is to be decided how much should developed countries rely on domestic effort, a controversial issue that in the past has already led to a fall apart of negotiations in The Hauge in 2000.
- Developed countries should provide financial resources, technology and capacity building to support the implementation of adaptation actions in developing countries.
- Issues related to short- (2010-2012) and medium-term (after 2012) financing adaptation, mitigation, including REDD plus, and capacity building take a large part of the text. However, there are many [XX] still to be decided. However, today the EU Commission has put on the table 2.4 Billion per year over the next three years. What would other Parties say?

Going to AWG-KP...
- A column with quantified emission limitation or reduction commitment for the second period [2013-2017] or [2013-2020] should be added to the table in Annex B to the Kyoto Protocol
- Overall Annex I emissions reduction target. Within the range of [35 to 45] per cent below 1990 levels in the commitment period [2013-2017] or [2013-2020].
- CCS and CDM. Two options have been proposed: (i) activities relating to CCS shall not be eligible under CDM (ii) activities relating to CCS shall be eligible under CDM in the second and subsequent periods requiring the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice for modalities and procedures of the inclusion
- Nuclear and CDM/JI. Three options have been proposed: (i) nuclear facilities shall not be eligible under CDM (ii) Annex I Parties of the KP can use certified emission reduction generated from nuclear facilities to meet their emission reduction targets (iii) activities relating to nuclear facilities shall be eligible under CDM in the second and subsequent periods requiring the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice for modalities and procedures of the inclusion
- Banking. Proposed provisions of restrictions or no restrictions in carry-over units from the first commitment period to the second.

At 6 pm in a close meeting the leader delegates of Parties will discuss and try to find a compromise following these draft documents.
Are they on the right way? The night is long…

See: Chair’s Proposed Draft Text on the Outcome of the Work of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long Term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA)
Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP)

Special thanks to Enrica De Cian

Troubled days

Thursday, fourth day of the COP/MOP, the meeting was suspended in order to allow Parties to clarify their positions. The hot issue was related to the legal form of the Copenhagen agreement. Indeed, in the morning, Parties discussed some proposals by countries to amend Annex B of the Kyoto Protocol. On this issues positions of countries are very far: developing countries stressed that the most important objective of this conference is to adopt a protocol amendement incuding new targets for developed countries in Annex B, while developed nations reiterated the need of a new Protocol in order to "expand the scope of responsibility" (Japanese representative). After a long debate, Tuvalu, together with African, Latin American and AOSIS countries, urged a formal contact group to consider the proposed Protocol amendments, and resisted to move the procedural question to informal consultations with a review of progress in plenary on Saturday, as proposed by the President Hedegaard.
Once again, as happened in Barcelona, developing countries stopped the works, expressing their frustration for the lack of a common position.
On the other issues, negotiations continued regularly inside contact groups and informal consultations.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Day three: everyone’s talking about the Danish text

On Tuesday the UK newspaper The Guardian leaked publicly the so called "Danish text", a secret draft's agreement allegedly written by the host country. The initial reaction to this draft, headlined "The Copenhagen Agreement under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change", was curiosity and excitement. However today developing countries reacted furiously complaining for lack of transparency and expressing deep unease.
According to the text, emissions from developed nations should be reduced by 80% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels, while it proposes an undefined medium-term target by 2020. It also specifies that developing countries, except the least developed which may contribute at their own discretion, commit to nationally appropriate mitigation actions, according to a reduction percentage from their Business as Usual emissions. This last point is critical because it defines the distinction between developing and least developed countries, assigning to them different responsibilities. Moreover, the text suggests to transfer the control of the Copenhagen agreement from the UN to the World Bank. At this regard developing countries expressed concern about the shift of control in favor of the developed nations.
A press release from the Danish Climate Ministry denied that the text is an official Danish proposal. Also the UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer commented that it was an informal paper ahead of the conference given to some people for the purposes of consultations. The only formal texts in the UN process are the ones tabled by the Chairs of this Copenhagen conference at the behest of the Parties.
Despite this accident, negotiations continued during all the day...with 250 meetings scheduled in the daily agenda delegates were very busy!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

3...2...1...COP!

On Monday, 7th Dicember, the critical COP-15 began its works.
In the morning the halls of the Bella Center filled quickly as delegates and observers arrived to attend the welcoming ceremony.

COP-15 Opening Ceremony (UNFCCC)

A touching video opened the ceremony, asking to delegates to "help the world". After this, Prime Minister of Denmark, Lars Rasmussen, exhorted the Parties to reach an ambitious agreement in order to deliver “hope for a better future”, while the Major of Copenhagen said COP-15 needs to “go very far, very fast” and called on delegates to turn the word Copenhagen into “Hopenhagen”. Subsequently, Rajendra Pachauri, IPCC Chair, highlighted the consequences of a failure to implement mitigation policies on the basis of the Fourth Assessment Report. Lastly the UNFCCC Secretary, Yvo De Boer emphasized that this COP would be successful only if it will deliver significant and immediate action.
After the election of Connie Hedegaard, Danish Minister for the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen 2009, as COP 15 President, the last session of the two working groups on Long Coperative Action (AWG-LCA) and on Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) started.
With around 34,000 participants having applied for accreditation, 110 world leaders and negotiators from 192 countries, COP 15 is the biggest meeting held under the UNFCCC.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Don't miss the train to Copenhagen

Missing only a few days at the beginning of the long-awaited fifteenth UN Conference of the Parties in which world government representatives will seek to define the future of the climate agreement. Despite the lack of progress in the last negotiating meetings, there are great expectations that something important will happen.
Among the preparatory initiatives taking place these days, there is the
Climate Express, which this morning began its journey from Brussels to Copenhagen. Organized by the International Union of Railways in collaboration with UNEP, WWF and other partners, this train left Brussels with more than 400 passengers including negotiators, business leaders, NGO's and environmental activists that are travelling together in a 12-hour on-track conference with special focus on the role of transport in the fight to climate changes. By drawing power exclusively from renewable energy, the journey on the Climate Express is totally CO2-free. The organizers calculate that if the same group of people flew to Copenhagen instead of taking this train, they would produce 115kg CO2 per person. The arrival of the Climate Express in the Danish capital is scheduled for this evening at 10.55 PM.
Next stop Copenhagen...
where (maybe) will start the final phase of this long journey towards a new international climate agreement.