#25: Halfway to Copenhagen

June 18, 2009
by phil


At the end of the UN Climate Talks in Bonn we get a close reading of the state of play from Third World Network’s Meena Raman. While the elements of a possible successful Copenhagen global climate deal are on the table and mainly come from developing countries, rich countries continue to ignore their responsibilities and offer weak cuts in greenhouse gas emissions that scientists have concluded are virtually certain to guarantee dangerous climate change.

Key points

The negotiations have two tracks.

The Kyoto Protocol track was given a mandate in Poznan to agree on a group (“aggregate”) target for industrialised (“Annex I”) countries. Instead Annex I countries have been putting forward weak, unilateral offers of cuts in greenhouse gases. The Association of Small Island States have called for an aggregate target of 45% cut by 2020 compared to 1990 levels and 40 developing countries (including…) have called for “at least 40%”. These developing country proposals will go forward to the next round of discussions in Bonn (10-14 August).

Those climate-wrecking unilateral targets for 2020 in full:

  • Australia – not clear (conditional target of 25% but they are using a base year of 2000)
  • Canada – 2.7%
  • EU – 20%-30% – half of which could be offsets
  • Norway – 30% – a third of which could be offsets
  • Japan – 8% – no offsets
  • New Zealand – we’ll tell you later
  • Russia – later…
  • United States – 0-4% (exact number is unclear) – mainly offsets

The Association of Small Island States has calculated that current Annex I targets amount to a 5-10% cut by 2020 compared to 1990 levels. The IPCC’s 2007 assessment (now considered to be based on old science) is that Annex I countries should be making cuts of at 40% at the very least. The EU position is that developed countries should take on targets of 30% – this will make exceeding 2C likely and is therefore inconsistent with their long-established aim of staying within 2C.

In the Bali Action Plan track

  • The G77+China bloc (representing 136 countries) has proposed a financial architecture. If there were sufficient resources under this mechanism, there would be no need for the widely-discredited Clean Development Mechanism. A large and growing group of developing countries is saying that incentives for forest conservation should also come under this mechanism to avoid forest conservation (aka Reduced Emissions from Deforestation & Degradation, “REDD”) becoming an offset option for industrialized nations.
  • G77+China has called for there to be no patents on climate technologies to enable their rapid deployment

What needs to happen between now and Copenhagen according to Meena:

  • Industrialised countries must negotiate a group target consistent with the science and fairness in August in Bonn
  • There must be agreement on finance and technology mechanisms in advance of Copenhagen
  • All this is a huge political challenge and won’t happen without a huge mobilization

ENB Detailed Summary of the Bonn Climate Change Talks
Halfway to Copenhagen, No Way to 2C (Nature Reports Climate Change, 11 June 2009)
2C not likely to be achieved for 450 ppmv stabilization (Climate Analytics, 4 April 2009)
Leading UK negotiator Peter Betts says 40% by 2020 is “laughable”
G77+China financing proposal (TWN, August 2008)
G77+China call for no patents on climate technologies (TWN, 11 June 2009)
EU must put climate money on the table (Guardian letter, 18 June 2009)
Third World Network – daily updates and briefings from UN climate talks
The Bali Action Plan (don’t worry – it’s only three pages, UNFCCC, 2007)
How the Bali Action Plan was agreed (ten minute youtube video)

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