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The Future: Where Does the Copenhagen Accord Fit In?

April 8, 2010 by · 9 Comments 

The UNFCCC intercessional that starts tomorrow in Bonn will be the first gathering of negotiators since the Copenhagen climate summit in December. Though it is a procedural meeting, the two-day session has the important task of deciding meetings, priorities, and dates for the 2010 global climate negotiations calendar. Another of the primary points of interest that delegates will attempt to tackle  is how to fit the Copenhagen Accord into the nearly 20-year long U.N. climate negotiating process.

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The future of the Copenhagen Accord is far from clear. The uncertainty stems from the legal nature of the agreement.  The two tracks of the U.N. climate negotiations, the KP and LCA Ad Hoc Working Groups, adopted parallel decisions to only “take note” of the agreement. This leaves the commitments and provisions outlined in the Copenhagen Accord – such as “fast start” funding, REDD, and mitigation targets – squarely outside of the UNFCCC formal process.

That means that the U.N. can’t act on them yet. As countries submit letters associating with the Accord  many of them reiterate that the Accord is not a legal document. India, for example, stated “the Accord is only an input into the two-track negotiations. The Accord is not a new track of negotiations or a template for outcomes.”

In Bonn, delegates are faced with a difficult diplomatic puzzle. How can they merge  the Accord, which some nations abhor, with the UNFCCC process, which has been supported by nearly 200 nations? And delegates need to develop the foundation for this year’s negotiations while reinvigorating the Kyoto Protocol and LCA negotiating tracks.

The following captures the latest developments relating to the Accord.

In Short: Copenhagen Accord Updates

  • Last week Andrew Light and Sean Poll at the Center for American Progress created an interactive world map based on commitments made under the Copenhagen Accord so far. They claim that while Copenhagen Accord pledges would not keep temperatures from rising above 2 degrees Celsius by 2100, the pledges could hold us to a 3 degree rise rather than a 4.8 degrees business-as-usual trajectory.
  • Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UNFCCC, said he did not expect the Copenhagen Accord to become the basis for ongoing negotiations, but rather a way to reinvigorate formal UNFCCC negotiations.  “I don’t think the Copenhagen Accord will become the new legal framework,” said De Boer.
  • Indonesia is urging negotiators not to ignore the Copenhagen Accord during the climate talks in Bonn, Germany this week, saying otherwise countries would have to start from scratch to reach a binding treaty. “For Indonesia, the Copenhagen Accord is one of the stepping stones to reach an agreement in Cancun, Mexico,” said Indonesian chief negotiator Rachmat Witoelar.
  • Bharrat Jagdeo, president of Guyana, says that “very little work” has been done to secure the $10 billion in “fast start” financing pledged in Copenhagen. He also claimed that since money from the Accord must go to the most vulnerable countries, under World Bank guidelines Guyana should be the first to receive some of the resources.
  • India Times reports that Margaret Mukahanan-Sangarwe, the new chair of the LCA-AWG track, put out an informal note outlining issues the working group should consider which excluded how the Copenhagen Accord will be worked into the negotiations. “The lack of specifics leaves the door open for yet another round of unresolved negotiations,” states the article.
  • On March 30, the UNFCCC published reports that summed up the outcomes of the Copenhagen climate summit, including the text of the Copenhagen Accord and a list of the 112 Parties (111 countries and the European Union) that have indicated support for the Accord.
  • A Deutsche Bank report released last month contends that the Copenhagen climate summit catalyzed climate policies around the world. In January 2010 the world saw nearly 300 climate policies introduced, nearly double those announced a year before. They suspect this upward trend will continue in 2010, especially when approaching COP 16 in Cancun.

Recent Submissions to the Accord

To date, 122 countries, including the 27-member EU, have engaged with the Accord, representing 83.79% of global emissions. 5 countries will not engage with the Accord, representing 0.58% of global emissions. 65 countries have yet to respond.

Recent submissions include:

Visit Who’s On Board With the Copenhagen Accord for profiles of these countries and additional analysis of the Copenhagen Accord.

— Rhys Gerholdt

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