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Copenhagen Accord Weekly Round Up (May 14)

May 14, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

In the last two weeks, Togo has associated with the Copenhagen Accord. Media reports indicate that Tuvalu will not associate (see below) while Bolivia’s UN submission reaffirmed they also will not engage. See Who’s On Board With the Copenhagen Accord.

petersburgGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel hosted the Petersburg Climate Dialogue earlier this month, urging environmental ministers from some 45 countries to “find a basis for trust” before the next UN summit. Merkel pointed out that the voluntary pledges currently registered in the Accord put Earth on track for a 3.5 C or even a 4.0 C jump by 2100.  Outgoing UNFCCC Chair Yvo de Boer acknowledged at the summit that countries “remain divided” about the role of the Copenhagen Accord in future negotiations (Yvo’s statement). During the summit Bangladesh called upon developed countries to quickly disburse ‘fast track’ funding as committed under the Copenhagen Accord.

The German paper Der Spiegel released an “accidental” audio tape recording that captured conversations of negotiations between Heads of State in the hours before BASIC country representatives and President Obama forged the Copenhagen Accord. The recording made obvious stark divisions between leaders in the room, such as China and India representatives’ unwillingness to agree to binding C02 reductions or include long-term emission reduction targets an agreement.

At talks in Oslo on May 27, rich nations are likely to promise $5 billion to protect forests in developing nations. The funds are part of the wider goal of raising almost $30 billion for 2010-12 in quick-start funds under the Copenhagen Accord.

Quick Links

Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh held a press conference where he spoke about the Copenhagen Accord at length, including the issues of “transparency” and the legal nature of the agreement. Ramesh said he thought that in terms of the Copenhagen Accord, securing a legally binding agreement was actually of greater importance to the Europeans than to the Americans, since the Accord was not binding on any party. Ramesh said the difficulty on this point was that Obama had to explain the lack of bindingness to the Europeans. Ramesh also recounted the negotiating session between President Obama and leaders the major emerging economies that agreed to the Copenhagen Accord. Jairam Ramesh recounted that as the accord was signed China’s top climate change negotiator, Xie Zhenhau, twice shouted and thumped the table. “What did he say?” asked U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who was also in the room. “He’s congratulating us,” Obama deadpanned. Ramesh said he never figured out why Xie was upset, but speculated the Chinese negotiator thought the “Americans were not fulfilling their part of the bargain.”

New Publications

US Climate Action Network has released a new report on innovative finance options that the United States can support. Investing in the Future: Options for Climate Finance the U.S. Can Support report discusses five innovative mechanisms and provides recommendations for overcoming the perceived challenges associated with each mechanism. All of these financing options could become viable ways for the U.S. to meet its commitments under the Copenhagen Accord.

An Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) PowerPoint outlines the challenges and opportunities for the steel industry post-Copenhagen. Challenges include rapid acceleration of CCS, switching to lower carbon fuels like natural gas, and financing transformation.

A new Australian NGO report contends that while the Copenhagen climate summit it not achieve all of its objectives, policy actions and investment in low-carbon technologies continue apace. Researchers with The Climate Institute found that since October 2009, no less than 154 new policy announcements have been made globally. On the back of clean energy measures in national stimulus packages global investment in clean energy are projected to reach US$200 billion in 2010.

Two climate change researchers have warned that the goal of limiting global temperature rise below 2 degrees C spelt out in the Copenhagen Accord will be a “Herculean” task. In the report, The Copenhagen Accord for limiting global warming: Criteria, constraints, and available avenues, the researchers outline three steps that must be taken simultaneously to avoid passing a dangerous theshold for our climate: (1) stabilize CO2 below 441ppm by 2100, (2) reduce black carbon and ozone pollution and (3) reduce short-lived GHGs such as methane.

Country Developments

African Union. African delegates are expressing skepticism that developed nations will meet the financial commitments under the Copenhagen Accord. At the opening of an African Union meeting in Addis Ababa African leaders vowed to derail efforts to craft a binding global treaty if the $30 billion in ‘fast-start’ funds was not delivered. Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said that at the climate summit in Cancun “we need to refine our strategies in concentrating especially on the implementation of the financial commitments of Copenhagen.” At the meeting Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission underlined that African member states should endorse the Copenhagen Accord but also “put African priorities in a correct order.”

African Union and Japan. Katsuya Okada, Japan’s Foreign Affairs Minister, spoke about climate change and the Copenhagen Accord at the second Tokyo International Conference on African Development, held in Tanzania on May 3. The minister said it was “regrettable” that the Accord was only take note of by the UNFCCC negotiating tracks and called the document an “important step towards the formulation of a legal document.” Katsuya also commended the African Union for endorsing the agreement in February and encouraged all member states to make submissions to the UNFCCC endorsing the Copenhagen Accord. “I understand that 33 African countries have made such submissions so far and I expect this number will be further increased in the near future.”

Bolivia. At a news conference at U.N. headquarters on May 8, Bolivian president Evo Morales said that rich nations are using more than their share of the atmosphere by emitting too much carbon pollution. Morales bitterly complained that the voluntary emissions-cutting pledges of the U.S.-brokered Copenhagen Accord are inadequate.

Canada and European Union. After an EU-Canada Summit in Brussels, Canada released a statement that, among other things, addresses the Copenhagen Accord. The released noted that “integrating the agreements contained in the Copenhagen Accord into the UNFCCC negotiating texts will be critical to advance the negotiation for the United Nations Climate Change Conference at the end of 2010.”

Canada. Jim Prentice, Canada’s Minister of the Environment, wrote an op-ed in The Toronto Star that told readers to “rest assured” about Canada’s role in the UN climate talks. “[Canada's] constructive engagement [in the UN climate negotiations] will continue in 2010 as we work to implement the Copenhagen Accord, an agreement that is a significant breakthrough in the global effort against climate change.”

Cambodia. Cambodian prime minister Samdech Hun Sen outlined his countries’ commitments under the Copenhagen Accord at the 16th ASEAN Summit held in Hanoi on April 8. “Cambodia has been committed to the implementation of the Copenhagen Accord,” said Samdech, and is piloting a project in the framework of Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation. We must give high priority to climate change mitigation and adaptation in the process toward a climate-resilient ASEAN Community. “

China. China will impose a carbon tax on industry starting in 2012 to curb carbon dioxide emissions, a Chinese-language business newspaper reported on May 11. In their pledge under the Copenhagen Accord, the Chinese goverment had vowed to cut “carbon intensity” – the amount of carbon pollution emitted to create a unit of economic value – by 40 to 45 percent by 2020, compared with 2005 levels. While recent improved economic activity may make meeting those targets more difficult, Chinese premier Wen Jiabao claimed that he is willing to use an “iron hand” to close down the most carbon-intensive factories and ensure the Copenhagen targets are met.

European Union and China. During a visit by the European Commission to China, the two parties established a ministerial-level mechanism of dialogue and cooperation on climate change and restated their support for the Copenhagen Accord.

Grenada and Japan. Grenadian environment minister Michael Church recently held bilateral discussions with the Government of Japan that touched on international finance. Senior Japanese officials indicated that they were ready to disperse $15 billion into the Hatoyama Climate Fund, which is part of the country’s pledge under the Copenhagen Accord climate fund.

India. India’s submission to the UN reiterates their view that the Copenhagen Accord is an “input to the [United Nations] negotiations,” as opposed to the basis of negotiations. India’s environmental minister Jairam Ramesh also recently said that he didn’t expect much to come out of negotiations at the next major UN summit. “We may have a political statement in Mexico, in Cancun, we may have a little more detailing of the Copenhagen accord… but if you ask me whether we will have an international agreement in Cancun, the answer is no.”

Indonesia. Indonesia is expected to get international funds amounting up to $3 billion from the ‘fast-start funding’ rich nations committed to under the Copenhagen Accord. “Through the Advisory Group on Financing, the finance minister and Goerge Soros reported Indonesia can get US$3 billion in 2012 including funds from Norway,” said Rachmat Witoelar, the executive chairman of Indonesia’s Climate Change National Council.

Japan and India. At the fourth meeting of the Japan-India Energy Dialogue, the nations reaffirmed their determination to collaborate closely in negotiations under the UNFCCC towards an agreed outcome at COP16. Their ministers spoke of the progress made between the two countries on energy efficiency, renewable energy, coal and power generation. They also said that they both welcomed the Copenhagen Accord.

Nigeria. Nigeria may soon clarify its stance on the Copenhagen Accord. When unveiling a new national strategy for curtailing erosion in the North African country, Nigerian Minister of Environment, Mr. John Odey hinted that the ministry had recently concluded a stakeholders consultation exercise on the implementation of the Copenhagen Accord and plans to set up a national steering committee to address strategies for its implementation.

Spain. Spain became the first country to make a significant contribution to the Adaptation Fund developed under the Copenhagen Accord. The country offers €45 million to help fortify developing countries from the ill effects of climate change, becoming the first country to make a significant contribution to the Adaptation Fund outlined in the Copenhagen Accord.

Tuvalu. Tuvalu Prime Minister Apisai Ielemia criticized the Copenhagen Accord, claiming that it favored the United States over small island countries like Tuvalu. “We will maintain our position not to be part of the Copenhagen accord,” the prime minister said, comparing the agreement to a “death certificate” for his people. Ielemia also blamed the United States for the lack of progress in Copenhagen, asserting that President Obama cobbled together the pact purely for “domestic political reasons.”

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