UN Climate Change Conference 2009 (Copenhagen)

Written by  //  December 19, 2009  //  China, Cleo Paskal, Climate Change, U.S., United Nations  //  Comments Off on UN Climate Change Conference 2009 (Copenhagen)

Reuters FACTBOX: Who Is Going To Copenhagen?

UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (Host country site)
Telegraph U.K. Copenhagen climate change conference
UNFCC Official Copenhagen site
Climate change on Wednesday-night.com
Québec at Copenhagen : Moving to a greener economy
Global Treaty on Climate Change 2009
IISD and the Conference of the Parties
15 people worth watching in Copenhagen
IPS/TerraViva latest news, with photos, videos and multimedia

A Grudging Accord in Climate Talks
(NYT) After two weeks of delays, grandstanding and frantic dealmaking, the United Nations climate change talks concluded here early Saturday morning with a grudging agreement by the participants to “take note” of a pact shaped by five major nations.
The final accord, a 12-paragraph document, was a statement of intention, not a binding pledge to begin taking action on global warming — a compromise seen to represent a flawed but essential step forward.
But many delegates of the 193 countries that had gathered here left Copenhagen in a sour mood, disappointed that the pact lacked so many elements they considered crucial, including firm targets for mid- or long-term reductions of greenhouse gas emissions and a deadline for concluding a binding treaty next year.
Many participants also said that the chaos and contentiousness of the talks may signal the end of reliance on a process that for almost two decades had been viewed as the best approach to tackling global warming: the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and a series of 15 conventions following a 1992 climate summit meeting in Rio de Janeiro.
The process has become unworkable, many said, because it has proved virtually impossible to forge consensus among the disparate blocs of countries fighting over environmental guilt, future costs and who should referee the results.
Better than nothing
(The Economist) Some procedural legerdemain, coupled with the fact that the vast majority of the countries present preferred this accord to no accord, managed to get the text adopted in such a way that it will enter into force. The UNFCCC process, though—quite remarkably fractious and unproductive over the past two weeks—looks in need of some serious attention. Though there was a fair bit of mess involved, and their achievement was far from monumental, the leaders who turned up in Copenhagen seem to have made a difference by finding their way to a suboptimal deal rather than none at all.
A Copenhagen Accord it is
(COP15 Denmark) An agreement drawn up Friday night by leaders from the US, China, India, Brazil and South Africa has been recognized Saturday morning by the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
“The conference of the parties takes note of the Copenhagen Accord,” says a final decision.
The text is still strongly debated, and it remains to be seen how many countries will sign on to the Copenhagen Accord.
Summit ends after marathon 31-hour talks
UN chief cautions that new ‘Copenhagen Accord’ is only the beginning of efforts to craft deal to cut emissions
(Globe & Mail) The historic UN climate talks in Copenhagen ended Saturday after a 31-hour negotiating marathon, narrowly avoiding collapse by accepting a compromise that gives billions to poor nations to deal with global warming but does not require the world’s major polluters to make deeper cuts in their greenhouse gas emissions.
COP15: (No) Hopenhagen?

(BBC Analysis) Approaching the summit, it appeared that pretty much all the countries wanted a new global climate deal under the UNFCCC umbrella. Politicians from many countries invested significant diplomatic effort to make it happen – apparently.
The concluding sequence of this much-hyped summit has left many observers and national delegations stunned.
Ministers and officials and scientists and campaigners and lobbyists who have dedicated huge swathes of the last year to making a tough deal happen watched aghast as Chinese and US leaders and their entourages flew in, took over the agenda and emerged with what was basically their own private deal, with leaders announcing it live on television before others realised it had happened.
Does Copenhagen, then, mark not the beginning of a new global climate regime but the end of the vision of global, negotiated climate governance?
Is it the end for the idea of global, negotiated governance on other environmental issues?
Wlliam Marsden: Analysis – Copenhagen was based on false premise
Negotiations require a give and take. For that to happen, each party must have something to offer. In Copenhagen, 140 countries had nothing to offer but their moral outrage and pleas for justice and that has rarely proved to move the West.
Many Goals Remain Unmet in 5 Nations’ Climate Deal
(NYT) COPENHAGEN — By the early hours of Saturday, representatives of the 193 countries who have negotiated here for nearly two weeks had not yet approved the deal and there were signs they might not. The three-page accord that Mr. Obama negotiated with the leaders of China, India, Brazil and South Africa and then presented to the conference did not meet even the modest expectations that leaders set for this meeting, notably by failing to set a 2010 goal for reaching a binding international treaty to seal the provisions of the accord.
18 December
George Monbiot: Scramble for the Atmosphere
The useless, destructive talks at Copenhagen show that the treaty-making system has scarcely changed in 130 years.
This is the chaotic, disastrous denouement of a chaotic and disastrous summit. The event has been attended by historic levels of incompetence. … The process of negotiation is just as obtuse: there’s no evidence here of the innovative methods of dispute resolution developed recently by mediators and coaches, just the same old pig-headed wrestling.
A tale of two superpowers
(BBC) If the analysis that the US and China hold the key, then there are two outcomes from this summit. One sees Mr Wen and Mr Obama joining hands in mutual glory; the other sees them heading off to their respective capitals in their respective limousines, with each saying that they tried but the other side just wouldn’t play ball.
China’s delaying tactics threaten climate deal
China is attempting to scupper chances of a comprehenive agreement at the Copenhagen climate summit by using delaying tactics, sources inside the negotiations have told The Independent.
At an emergency meeting convened at the Bella Center this morning, Barack Obama and Gordon Brown assembled 26 heads of state in an attempt to revive a deal. But China’s Premier Wen Jiabao did not attend and was replaced by vice foreign minister He Yafei. This afternoon, the US president and his secretary of state Hillary Clinton called another meeting with China, but were snubbed again when only three low-level Chinese delegates arrived.
Obama presses China at Copenhagen
U.S. President Barack Obama pressed world leaders at the UN climate talks in Copenhagen to come to an agreement on regulating carbon emissions and how these cuts should be measured and monitored. The U.S. has said independent monitoring of every nation’s carbon-emissions cuts — which China firmly rejects — is a critical component to any agreement on climate change. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S. would not support a $100 billion concession to developing countries if China refuses to accede to independent monitoring. The New York Times (12/18) , The Washington Post (12/18) , The Independent (London) (12/18)
Copenhagen Wrap-Up – Paskal

(CBC The Current Part 2) … according to Cleo Paskal, even a successful end to the meetings in Copenhagen would still fall short because it wouldn’t address the political fallout from things like rising sea levels, natural disasters, and the population movement that come with climate change.Cleo Paskal is an award-winning journalist from Montreal. She’s now an Associate Fellow at the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House in London, England. Her new book is Global Warring: How Environmental, Economic and Political Crises will Redraw the World Map. She was in Copenhagen.
17 December
Climate deal looks close, but may not halt warming
(BBC) A deal at the UN climate summit looks more likely following a frantic day of behind the scenes diplomacy. China signalled concessions on monitoring of emission curbs, and the US said it would commit money for developing countries. Leaders are likely to have big choices to make when they meet on Friday.
U.S. backs $100 bln climate fund, world leaders meet
(Reuters morning digest) – U.S. backing for a $100 billion climate fund to help poor nations revived hopes for a deal to combat global warming on Thursday as world leaders met on the eve of a U.N. deadline for breaking deadlock.
Copenhagen’s unresolved issues
16 December
Johann Hari: It’s the protesters who offer the best hope for our planet
They’ve ensured the corporate lobbyists punching holes in the deal are shamed
… in reality, there are two forms of vandalism about to happen in this city. There is the cutting of a few fences as part of an act of mass civil disobedience. It is an attempt to symbolically resist the much bigger act of vandalism – the trashing of our own habitat, by leaders too short-sighted and too money-addled to listen to the science.
(CBC  – The Current Part 1) If there’s anyone anxious for a global climate treaty, you’d think it would be James Hansen. He’s widely regarded as the most influential climate scientist in the world. He has spent 30 years studying the earth’s climate systems and perfecting models to predict the effects of climate change. And yet, he says the kind of deal that is likely to come out of the United Nations Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen would be worse than no deal at all.
Copenhagen talks hinge on developing nations
With the UN climate talks proceeding toward a conclusion in Copenhagen, developing nations have proven increasingly reliant on procedural tactics and protests to stall progress toward a climate agreement — even as most of the decisions about the fate of the climate agreement rest in their hands. China and India will have to decide on two conditions outlined by the U.S. as foundational to any working agreement: That clear benchmarks for carbon-emissions cuts be set and that procedures for verifying cuts be made concrete. Delegates will work during the next 48 hours toward finalizing a draft agreement that they will then present to arriving world leaders. Los Angeles Times (12/16) , The Christian Science Monitor (12/15)
Blowing in the wind Discovering which countries emit which greenhouse gases is tricky
(The Economist) ONE of the many sets of initials being bandied about at the climate conference in Copenhagen is MRV—monitoring, reporting and verification. In theory, it seems fairly straightforward: if countries commit themselves to limiting the production of particular greenhouse gases, they need to be able to keep track of what they are doing and to tell the rest of the world, which must in turn be able to verify the claims. In practice, there are any number of problems, one of which is that when you start to look at what is actually happening in the atmosphere, it does not necessarily resemble anything that is being reported. Countries therefore commit themselves to actions without any real idea of the current state of play. As Ray Weiss of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography put it at one of the many side events surrounding the negotiations on the Kyoto protocol and its eventual successor, it is like going on a diet without weighing yourself.
Developing world threatens battle on drafts
African countries, Brazil, China, South Africa and India say they have produced a default proposal to be used only if rich countries try to shortcut UN-led negotiations in Copenhagen.
Much still up in the air as leaders prep for Copenhagen
The U.S. and Japan failed to agree to funding for developing nations to help prevent and alleviate catastrophic conditions caused by climate change. And China and India demanded $200 billion annually in climate appropriations. It’s not clear what progress is possible before the arrival of world leaders on the Copenhagen stage. Bloomberg (12/15) , The Wall Street Journal/Dow Jones Newswires (12/15)
(BBC) Climate change negotiators have been working through the night in Copenhagen to try to rescue plans for a global agreement from collapse.
14 December
COP15: Lockouts and walk-outs
(BBC) Inside, it was said to be a walk-out but wasn’t. Outside, it wasn’t supposed to be a lock-out, but was.
A confusing time for all inside and outside Copenhagen’s Bella Center on the second Monday of UN climate talks here.
From the perspective of creature comforts, inside had to be the choice. Inside, whatever problems we had deciphering the most confusing day’s proceedings so far, we knew where our next meal could come from and where we could obtain internal relief.
If the accreditation machine hadn’t broken down, it would only have taken the morning for the thousands upon thousands queuing up outside to discover they weren’t going to get in.
Tense atmosphere clouds climate talks
The atmosphere at the U.N. climate conference grew more tense and divisive after talks were suspended for most of Monday’s session — a sign of the developing nations’ deep distrust of the promises by industrial countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
The wrangle over emission reductions froze a timetable for government ministers to negotiate a host of complex issues. Though procedural in nature, the Africa-led suspension went to the core of suspicions by poor countries that wealthier ones were trying to soften their commitments and evade penalties for missing their targets. (Reuters) African protest hits U.N. climate talks in last week (CBC) Developing nations return to climate change talks: EU More on BBC
Copenhagen: How to turn delegates into protesters
With 15,000 seats for 45,000 accredited delegates, the United Nations left thousands out in the cold.
The climate summit may have hit a wall Monday, but the organizers did manage to unite conference-goers in outrage at the chaotic security procedures that left thousands of delegates and journalists stranded outside for up to 10 hours.
Belarussian students, Japanese former government ministers, Palestinian development workers, Chinese photographers, Brazilian journalists, Pakistani scientists and U.S. academics were among those unanimous in their condemnation of the United Nations’ inability to run an effective accreditation system for the global warming summit
Crowds Of Attendees Overwhelm Bella Center
13 December
Progress In U.N. Climate Talks, Tougher Issues Ahead
(Reuters/Planet Ark) U.N. climate talks have made progress at the half-way mark but many of the toughest issues such as greenhouse gas emissions targets for 2020 are deadlocked, delegates said on Saturday. Delegates said negotiators had advanced on texts such as defining how new green technologies such as wind and solar power can be supplied to developing nations and in promoting use of forests to soak up greenhouse gases. “We see the contours of a technology mechanism emerging, ” said Michael Zammit Cutajar, who chairs negotiations on new goals for all nations. But delegates said there were deep splits on issues such as raising funds for poor nations and sharing out the burden of greenhouse gas emissions curbs before a closing summit of more than 110 world leaders on December 17-18.
More succinctly, in the words of one blogger for the Burlington Free Press, “The bottom line is we’ve been eating all the snacks, using all the toys and pooping in the sandbox, and the rest of the kids are tired of it.”
12 December
Hundreds arrested at Copenhagen protest rally
(The Guardian) Hundreds of people were arrested in Copenhagen today after sporadic street violence broke out during a major protest march as UN climate change talks reached their halfway point. The demonstration, organised to urge conference delegates to work out a binding deal to tackle climate change, was largely peaceful but was marred when a group of protesters threw bricks at police.
Slogans are all to do with climate justice
… the most effective slogan of the march: “How old will you be in 2050?” Mr. Sayer says the slogan is all to do with climate justice. Most of the politicians and industrialists who are making decisions about how much, or how little, carbon will be dumped into the atmosphere won’t be alive in 2050. Their children and grandchildren will. “Justice means all the generations living now have the right to a future life,” he said. “That means those who are responsible for the emissions and the pollution have to take responsibility for the pollution.”
The Copenhagen battle over climate change funds
(BBC) The Copenhagen climate summit’s search for a deal to curb the world’s greenhouse gas emissions won’t succeed unless there is agreement on another thing too – money.
11 December
First official draft on climate deal
The world should at least cut its total greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2050, says the document from a key UN working group.
Copenhagen global warming draft points to hard bargaining ahead
A draft pact for a global warming treaty released Friday in Copenhagen would commit the US to significant emissions cuts by 2020 and draw developing nations into an agreement for the first time.
Africa downplays chances of a deal
African Union climate negotiator Meles Zenawi says the main obstacle for a climate deal is whether or not rich countries can come up with sufficient funding for developing countries.
And the U.S. and China are squabbling: Chinese official: Stern “irresponsible”
China and the US continue their barbed exchange. The Chinese Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei  says that the US chief negotiator either lacks common sense or is “extremely irresponsible”.
10 December
Soros urges IMF to create $100bn ‘green’ fund
George Soros, the billionaire financier, has unveiled a plan to give poor countries access to $100bn in financial assistance to deal with the threat of climate change … Mr Soros’ ideas are unlikely to be decided upon at the Copenhagen conference, but they could receive more attention in the coming months as rich countries struggle to work out in detail how they can finance any pledges they make in the coming days.
Filthy lucre fouls the air

Arguments over money dampened the euphoria that marked the start of talks on a global deal to limit greenhouse gases
(The Economist) The “Danish text” had been circulated by the hosts, but not to all parties; and it seems to confirm the futility of moves towards the legally binding treaty that many still want. It also seems to link any rich-to-poor transfers of money to specific actions taken by developing countries to curb emissions.
Can there still be a deal? The main obstacle may not be emissions cuts, which will not change much, but the closely linked issues of the shape of a deal and how much money it involves.


(SciDev.net blog) A sample conversation between two COP participants in the Copenhagen metro today. “I am going to yengo. And you?” Reply: “Lulucef’.
When I left Delhi to come here, there were the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). By the time I arrived in Copenhagen, they had turned into BASICs. Still the same group, I gather.
At first it was easier to follow, with COP (conference of parties) and a  MOP (meeting of parties) under the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework on Climate Change).
Now into COP-15, one sees delegates rushing off to AWG-KP and AWG-LCA. Those are two negotiating tracks set up in COP-13 in Bali –  (ad hoc working group-Kyoto protocol and ad hoc working group long term cooperation action).
Besides BRICS/BASICS, there are LDCs (least developed countries), SIDS (small island developing states); JUSCANZ  (Japan, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand);  and CACAM (Central Asia, the Caucuses, Albania and Moldova).
And business and industry NGOs (BINGOs); environmental NGOs (ENGOs); indigenous peoples organisations (IPOs); local governments and municipal authorities (LGMAs); research and independent NGOs (RINGOs);  trade union NGOs (TUNGOs); women’s environmental and development organisations (WEDOs); and youth environmental NGOs (YENGOs).
Issues range from CDM (clean development mechanism),  JI (joint implementation) and ET (emission trading);  REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation) and now REDD + which involves  compensation for their greening efforts. And an expert told me REDD is SDM + PES (sustainable forest management plus payment of environmental services). And LULUCF? Land use, land use change and forestry.
9 December
Rich and poor countries squabble in Copenhagen
While critics outside the U.N. climate conference in Copenhagen continue to attack the science of climate change, within the convention hall, the main debate is between rich and poor countries. A draft proposal known as the “Danish text” was leaked to the media yesterday and was immediately criticized by delegates from developing nations. (NYT)
The leaked ‘Danish draft’ text of a Copenhagen agreement: an NGO-created storm that will not benefit poor countries?
(FT) The Danish hosts of the COP have done what all COP hosts do: they have talked to all of the countries and blocs involved in the talks. They have not excluded developing countries. The text is not secret either. In various forms, it has been circulating among delegations, NGOs and journalists for weeks. It is also one among many draft texts, none of which have any status at all at the talks. Anyone can come up with a draft text – only those that are written within the strict definitions of the United Nations processes can be formally considered by the conference.
Climate Deal Likely to Bear Big Price Tag

 IISD Highlights from Tuesday, 8 December
This somewhat stultifying resumé  of the day’s events in typical UN jargon illustrates and supports our decision to NOT make the Conference a focus of Wednesday Night #1449.

On Tuesday, opening plenaries of the SBI and SBSTA took place. Various contact groups and informal consultations also convened to consider issues, including long-term cooperative action, a shared vision, finance, mitigation and technology under the AWG-LCA, Annex I emission reductions, other issues and potential consequences under the AWG-KP and REDD under the SBSTA.
Report: World sweats under record temperatures
This decade will be the hottest since records began being kept in 1850, with 2009 set to be one of the top five warmest years, the World Meteorological Organization says in an analysis. The data likely will be used as evidence pointing to a continued overall warming of the planet. The Toronto Star/The Associated Press (12/8) , The New York Times (12/8)
2000-09: la décennie la plus chaude

(Agence France-Presse) La décennie 2000-2009 devrait être «la plus chaude jamais enregistrée» depuis les premiers relevés instrumentaux réalisés en 1850, a annoncé mardi à Copenhague l’Organisation météorologique mondiale (OMM).
Climate Talks Open With Calls for Urgent Action
While the critical action will unfold much later in the process, when higher-level ministers and, ultimately, heads of state arrive, the opening day of the conference was an opportunity for the United Nations to nurture a sense of mission and for delegates to begin staking out their positions.
40,548 Reasons Why We May Not Get a Climate Agreement That Works in Copenhagen
Picture a fleet of 100,000 cars, idling for 2 straight weeks in the middle of Copenhagen. That’s the estimated greenhouse gas emissions impact of The UN’s Climate conference (aka COP-15), which starts today. 40,548 tons of CO2 to be exactly inexact.
5 December
Copenhagen climate summit: 1,200 limos, 140 private planes and caviar wedges
(The Telegraph) Copenhagen is preparing for the climate change summit that will produce as much carbon dioxide as a town the size of Middlesbrough.

The total number of requests to be registered for the conference has now exceeded the physical capacity of the venue. The number of media requesting accreditation has reached 5,000. More

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