Copenhagen: After intense bickering over 12 days and a last-minute call for consensus by world leaders, the Copenhagen climate summit sought to reach agreement over a draft “political statement” termed by climate activists as “not enough to save the planet”.
Expectations: Barack Obama at the Copenhagen conference. Larry Downning / Reuters
It aims at a 2 degrees Celsius limit to global warming by reducing emissions 50% by 2050, a global emission peaking year (without specifying the year) and $130 billion (Rs6.1 trillion) for mitigation and adaptation by 2020, and the resolution of differences on the Kyoto Protocol and the long-term cooperative action by 2010 in Mexico.
Dubbed as the Copenhagen Accord, the draft statement makes it binding on countries to list their targets—emissions reduction for rich nations and domestic mitigation for developing countries—thereby making compliance mandatory. But there is no penalty clause for nations failing to meet commitments.
The $130 billion fund Copenhagen Climate Fund—with contribution from the public and private sectors—is aimed at helping poor nations fight climate change, clean technology transfer and reducing emissions from forestry and related sectors.
Till the time of going to press, the negotiators were working on the fine print of the Copenhagen Accord.
The final scheduled day of talks was marked by a leaked United Nations (UN) document, which implied that the world would have to look to Mexico next year to make any meaningful progress on global warming.
The document said the draft pact would most likely fail in its attempt to stem warming, threatening the vulnerable with catastrophe as temperatures rise 3 degrees Celsius by 2050. This could lead to the inundation of coastal cities such as Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, New York, Cairo and London, destroy the Amazonian rain forests, desertify vast tracts of land and wipe out most of the world’s small island nations, the UN report said.
There’s “nothing to cheer about Copenhagen”, said a dejected Kumi Naidoo, executive director of non-governmental organization Greenpeace International, who hails from Africa, likely to be the worst hit by climate change. A Greenpeace analysis damned the draft document, saying it was not “based on latest science” and was “very empty”.
The Copenhagen summit was only remarkable for lack of progress.
“It does not help even the developing countries such as India because Copenhagen has failed to take the negotiations ahead,” said Sirish Sinha, climate policy expert at WWF-India.
For progress in Mexico, widely divergent views will need to be aligned in the next few months.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh talked about “commitment” to the Kyoto Protocol and were dismissive of efforts to replace it with a “weaker instrument”.
“We have a difficult task ahead,” Prime Minister Singh said. “Play positive and be constructive.”
US President Barack Obama, whose speech was predictably described as a “shame” by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, called on emerging economies India and China to be more “transparent” in their domestic mitigation actions. “To reach a global accord, we have to hold each other accountable for some commitments,” Obama said.
Both India and China said that their domestic mitigation efforts are much more than mandated under the UN’s climate convention and offered to do more, if the rich countries provided financial support. But they disagreed with Obama on mandatory verification and reviews of domestic mitigation action, one of the key points of contention between emerging economies and rich nations.
The failure of Copenhagen was defined in the leaked UN document marked “confidential” and dated 15 December, which said that all the pledges on the table—in the form of emission cuts from the developed countries and voluntary actions from developing countries such as emissions intensity reductions by India and China—will send global temperatures into a rising spiral.
The leaked UN report led on Friday to the outbreak of fresh arguments among negotiators, whose discussions had focused on how to hold the temperature line at 2 degrees Celsius, and renewed dismay from the small island nations, who want warming held to 1.5 degrees Celsius or say they risk annihilation by rising oceans.
The leaked UN document indicates how negotiators became bogged down in procedure and mutual suspicion that the actual targets needed to save the earth may have been ignored.
“The procedure should be transparent and inclusive,” Shyam Saran, Singh’s special envoy on climate change, said earlier in the day. He also accused host country Denmark, as the African bloc of 53 nations had done earlier, of consulting only a few countries on the final statement to be adopted in Copenhagen.
Graphic by Sandeep Bhatnagar / Mint