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Copenhagen is not over … By: Christine Loh, Civic Exchange December 2009 What did COP15 mean for the world?1 Two observations are obvious.

I.!

A New Tipping Point

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know this otherwise they wouldn’t have offered new carbon emissions reduction pledges ahead of COP15 (see Appendix A). Moreover, 120 political leaders showed up in Copenhagen during the second crucial week of the negotiations each of whom gave stirring speeches. This was a new ‘tipping point’.

II.! Lack of an enabling process

“Loud thunder, but only light rain” Chinese proverb Secondly, just because so many heads of state and ministers gathered together in one place, it didn’t mean they could agree on a global climate deal. They went home knowing the whole world watched how they tottered and faltered. The UN-sponsored multilateral process didn’t help. If anything, it contributed to the ultimate failure. The bureaucratic and unwieldy UN mechanism, designed for assertions of known positions – which is what many negotiators did – failed to facilitate genuine deliberation, dialogue and decision-making.2 Indeed, many would say there is now more distrust than before COP15, which could feed existing geopolitical tensions. Even after the political leaders arrived in Copenhagen, the process didn’t enable the ceding of the negotiating process to them despite a harrowing final two days where key players worked through the night to salvage an impending crash.3 Many are saying the final outcome was a deal struck between China and the US. In the end, not only national self-interests (not to lose out to others) but also biases about each other got the better of them even though the governments of the world knew they were dealing with a major planetary challenge that threatens the life-support system for humans.

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III.! The Copenhagen Accord %"B/-$'..+,)$/'%$'$&+&'9$+*$J$

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Politically significant, legally non-binding There was the non-binding, three-page Copenhagen Accord in the end that was first sketched out after too many sleepless hours (see Appendix B).4 The accord was ‘noted’ but not formally adopted by COP15. Some say it is an important breakthrough that lays the foundation for international action, while others say it is a political compromise of questionable substance and legitimacy. Depending on whether one sees the glass as ‘half full’ or ‘half empty’, one may emphasize the positive or negative aspects of the accord. For the optimists, the accord recognizes the world must not exceed a 2 °C warming above pre-industrial level. The accord calls for Annex I (developed) countries to formalize their reduction pledges and for non-Annex I (developing) countries to state their proposed efforts by 1 February 2010. It provides for the mitigation actions to be monitored nationally and reported in line with guidelines to be worked out. There will be an assessment of the implementation of the accord to be completed by 2015. The accord pledges a US$30 billion fund to be set-up by Annex I countries by 2012 for mitigation and adaptation in developing countries, and for to US$100 billion a year to be made available by 2020.5 Significantly, the accord authorizes the long-awaited forest protection mechanism (referred to as REDD+).6 For the pessimists, the non-binding, best-effort accord has two major flaws. Firstly, despite recognizing the importance of keeping within 2 °C warming, there was no agreement on limiting emissions or time frame for the peaking of emissions. There is no concrete emissions reductions targets for Annex I countries or commitments for non-Annex I countries on mitigation actions. It also does not state when global emissions must peak and the emissions reductions necessary by specific dates in the future. Secondly, the accord is not an agenda for action. It neither specifies the steps countries will need to take to reach agreement nor the process and institutions necessary to make things happen. The accord triggered an immediate negative reaction from carbon markets.7

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IV.! Negotiations positions If progress is to be made in 2010 the negotiation positions of the major counties at COP15 still have to be reconciled. These positions may be divided into several blocs: Most vulnerable: The small island states and the least developed countries (LDCs) of Africa and South America demanded global temperatures be capped at 1.5 °C and for global emissions to peak by 2015 to avert dangerous climate change. This would mean major emitters from developing countries, such as China, must also reduce emissions by a much larger margin.8 Major future emitters: The G77+China opposed position (i) because of the development imperative. They argue financial support for mitigation and adaptation projects from Annex I to non-Annex I countries is payment for the GHGs that have been emitted by Annex I countries since the Industrial Revolution. Requirement by Annex I countries for transparent verification of nonAnnex I mitigation efforts would be an intrusion on national sovereignty. Priority for financial support from Annex I countries can be given to the most vulnerable countries for adaptation. Annex I countries: The US made clear money could be made available against transparent verification of national mitigation efforts of developing countries.9 The EU, Australia and Japan felt squeezed between deals made the US and China.10

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China ‘He who is cautious may seem timid in the beginning, but his mettle will shine through in the end’ Wen Jiabao, Chinese premier, quoting Chinese saying, 16 December 2009 While China does not dispute the science of climate change, it argues there are different interpretations to its impacts and timeline, which affect how different countries see when emissions must peak and how fast and deep reductions must happen to avert dangerous climate change. China sees its recognition of the 2 °C threshold as a concession. It was not prepared to go further, and its refusal to adopt two clauses stating Annex I countries would cut emissions by 80% by 2050, and for global reduction to be cut by 50% by 2050, led to their abandonment.11 Instead, China was successful in getting the accord to acknowledge the time frame for peaking would take longer in developing countries, and stressed ‘social and economic development and poverty eradication are the first and overriding priorities of developing countries.’   China sees it as an achievement that Annex I countries are prepared to provide US$30 billion by 2012 and US$100 billion per year by 2020 for climate projects in non-Annex I countries. On transparent verification that cuts were actually made, China felt specifically targeted and its objection led to a compromise: mitigation actions taken by developing countries would be subject to domestic measurement, reporting and verification but developing countries have to provide information on the implementation of their actions for international consultations and analysis every two years under defined guidelines to be worked out so that national sovereignty is respected. The Chinese government knows it would need to consider how the international consultation process could be carried out since it has to rely on data reporting from often unreliable local authorities.

India India’s position going into COP15 were to thwart moves to impose binding targets for global emissions reduction and to only provide information about domestic mitigation programmes. Thus, by having agreed to international consultation and analysis, it feels it has also compromised. India, like China, insists it will ensure the rules to be agreed will not encroach on India’s sovereignty. United States Despite the US president’s efforts to shape a deal during the 14 hours he was in Copenhagen, the US’s best emission reduction proposal at COP15 (17% reduction compared to 2005 level) amounted to about 3%-4% on 1990 levels, which other countries found derisory. The president called the accord ‘a first step’ and ‘a shift in orientation moving’. 12 EU, Australia and Japan The EU agreed to the accord because for the first time China, US, India, Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia, Mexico, South Korea and Singapore had proposed measures to reduce emissions but it recognizes what is on the table will not achieve the 2 °C threshold.13 Australia preferred to have a weak accord than the negotiations collapsing altogether. The EU, Australia and Japan – who have binding targets to deliver by 2012 under the Kyoto Protocol – felt if they were the only ones willing to commit to binding targets post-2012, it would not be enough because together they would only make up about 30% of global emissions. They were most keen to have a new agreement that would bind everyone, including China and the US.14 !

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V.! Concluding Observations (i)$ Process to manage global commons It was probably expecting too much of the COP process to solve the complex climate problem. Even a reformed negotiation process may not do the trick easily. Managing the global commons, such as atmospheric temperature (which affects everyone but is owned by no one), is truly super challenging. However, there is nothing else right now besides the UN mechanism that enables global dialogue. Reforming the process needs to take account of what is needed to deliberate the management of global commons, not forgetting the climate system includes land, oceans and the cryosphere (ice and snow). (ii)$ Reconciling global divides Reconciliation is made harder still because substantial gulfs exist between rich and poor countries, and also about how the world can fix its politics and economics to take planetary systems and global commons into account. There is a need to discuss sustainable development and how development can be measured to reflect the success of nations. With the 20th anniversary of the Rio Summit in 2012, global discussion is likely to adopt a renewed interest in sustainable development but progress will likely be slow although the spread of ideas will be much aided by modern communications technology and methods. (iii)$ Questions going forward in the short-term There are a number of issues worth observing going forward: 1.

Under what circumstances will countries’ improve their emissions reduction pledges?

2. How will the financial pledges be made real? 3. How should international transparent consultation be designed? 4. How will COP15 affect the COP16 process? 5. Can national actions be structured to become a part of international collaboration? 6. What kinds of new norms are necessary that can then lead new multilateral agreements?

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Appendix A This information is based on tables presented in draft versions of the Copenhagen Accord but not appearing in the official version. Annex 1 (Developed) Countries Country/Region

% Reduction by 2020* Reference Year

Status

Australia

5-15

2000

Officially announced

Belarus

5-10

1990

Under consideration

Canada

20

2006

Officially announced

Croatia

5

1990

Under consideration

EU

20-30

1990

Legislated

Iceland

15

1990

Officially announced

Japan

25

1990

Officially announced

Kazakhstan

15

1992

Officially announced

Liechtenstein

20-30

1990

Officially announced

Monaco

20

1990

Officially announced

New Zealand

10-20

1990

Officially announced

Norway

30-40

1990

Officially announced

Russian Federation

15-25

1990

Officially announced

Switzerland

20-30

1990

Officially announced

Ukraine

20

1990

Under consideration

USA

14-17

2005

Under consideration

*Reductions below emissions in the Reference Year Non-Annex 1 (Developing) Countries Brazil

To reduce emissions 36.1-38.9% from BAU level by 2020

China

To reduce carbon intensity 40-45% by 2020 on 2005 level

Costa Rica

To become carbon neutral by 2021

India

To reduce emission intensity 20-25% by 2020 on 2005 level

Indonesia

To reduce emissions 26% from BAU by 2020 unilaterally, 41% with international support

Maldives

To become carbon neutral by 2019

Mexico

To reduce emissions 50% by 2050 on 2000 level

Philippines

To reduce emissions 5% from 1990 levels (no timeline)

Republic of Korea

To reduce emissions 4% below 2005 by 2020 or 30% from BAU level (unilaterally)

Singapore!

To reduce emissions 16% from BAU level by 2020

South Africa

To reduce emissions 34% from BAU level by 2020, 42% by 2025, conditional on international support

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Appendix 2 The Copenhagen Accord http://unfccc.int/files/meetings/cop_15/application/pdf/cop15_cph_auv.pdf

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