December 18, 2009
Last day at COP15 to reach an agreement on climate change
December 18, 2009
To make sense of all the information coming out of the COP15 conference in Copenhagen, Flow will be running a series of daily blog entries to keep you up-to-date on the latest news from the largest climate change event in the world. Today is the final day of the 12-day conference.
The final day of the COP15 negotiations is certainly the one with the highest (or lowest) expectations. With more than 110 world leaders assembled at Copenhagen, and with deadlocks having already become commonplace, the pressure to produce an agreement in the hours remaining has been coupled with growing cynicism over repeated clashes between negotiators of the developed and developing world. Schedules have been re-arranged and new meetings, such unscheduled talks between American President Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, will ultimately shape the final hours of the largest climate change conference in recent memory.
Today’s proceedings didn’t open on a positive note, with the plenary session being delayed a full two-hours. But today did see Brazil making one of the first substantial financial commitments to climate change from the developing world, albeit one that came with a caveat about respecting the sovereignty of other nations in emissions reduction monitoring. This question of sovereignty has been a major sticking point between China and the US throughout negotiations, with the US insisting that China make itself more transparent. China has consistently rebuffed the demand, but along with India has recently announced that it may be more open to transparency than previously revealed.
As of this writing, The “Copenhagen Accord,” which drops 2010 as the required year for a legally binding climate change treaty, has been the only document to emerge on the final day of negotiations. This is a different document than the earlier released “Copenhagen Agreement,” whose emphasis on the role of developing nations in climate change funding was a source of great contention. However, it is widely suspected that, despite today being the last official day of negotiations, COP15 will continue into the weekend.
While today is technically COP15’s final day, there is a real chance that the story has at least another day left in the world’s discussion on climate change. And with the potential elimination of a concrete deadline in 2010, that discussion could continue into the foreseeable future.
December 17, 2009
To make sense of all the information coming out of the COP15 conference in Copenhagen, Flow will be running a series of daily blog entries to keep you up-to-date on the latest news from the largest climate change event in the world. Today is day 11 of the 12-day conference.
With only two days of the conference remaining, the largest announcement on long-term climate change funding came with the United State’s announcement of a $100 billion fund. Though details on the exact nature of the fund — US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton avoided specifics in the announcement —the size of the fund is of critical importance to the negotiations, where previous declared amounts have been derided as inadequate. The announcement, however, comes with a contentious condition: that China open itself to international monitoring of emissions reductions. Given China’s protests on the basis of sovereignty, the US push toward transparency has been one of the public sticking points in COP15 negotiations. With all leaders are still scheduled to attend with 24 hours, the pressure to resolve the dispute is considerable.
Another contentious issue has been the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol, seen by developing nations as ensuring their relatively protected position on emission reduction. Previous symptoms of the divide were seen in a walk-out and ultimately an inability to create a single draft agreement. Recently, however, COP15 delegates addressed the paralyzing nature of the dispute directly by creating two negotiation “tracks”, one on Kyoto and one for the Climate Change Convention proper. Whether this and the ongoing negotiations on international monitoring will ultimately produce an agreement in time for the arrival of all world leaders remains to be seen, but Kyoto’s prospects are beginning to look more promising.
Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, has already arrived at COP15 but, as The Globe and Mail reported, has made a point of maintaining a low profile. Given the flak taken over Canada’s current emission reduction pledges and the international attention on projects like Alberta’s oil sands, the move is hardly surprising. There had been rumours that US President Barak Obama might not attend at all, but while American officials have reiterated that he would appear on Friday, they have suggested that observers should restrain their expectations. High or low, a leader’s profile can’t always match up to expectations.
December 16, 2009
To make sense of all the information coming out of the COP15 conference in Copenhagen, Flow will be running a series of daily blog entries to keep you up-to-date on the latest news from the largest climate change event in the world. Today is day ten of the 12-day conference.
Most if not all of the contention around this year’s summit has come from the clash between developing and developed nations. At the centre of this tension, developing nations have been clear about their desire to extend the Kyoto Protocol through 2012. According to India’s environment minister, however, the chance of that extension is all but gone. With Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen presenting a compromise agreement at today’s negotiations, and African delegates presenting the possibility of concessions, the conference’s ultimate result is still very much in question with two days remaining before most world leaders arrive on site.
At this point, the most concrete result of the conference have come out of discussions on deforestation, which has netted billions in funding for rainforest protection. As with the short-term climate change funding committed by the EU through 2012, this money will go primarily toward developing nations. Meanwhile, protesters continue to surround the conference site, with today’s protest provoking particularly aggressive clashes including the use of pepper spray.
Canada’s COP15 position
With Stephen Harper already in Copenhagen and high profile Canadian delegates like Alberta’s Environment Minister, Rob Renner, arriving within days, the ultimate conclusion of Canada’s role at COP15 is imminent. Both The Canadian Centre for Energy Information and NRCan have provided summaries of the provincial energy strategies that form the backdrop of any commitments the country makes on the world stage.
December 15, 2009
To make sense of all the information coming out of the COP15 conference in Copenhagen, Flow will be running a series of daily blog entries to keep you up-to-date on the latest news from the largest climate change event in the world. Today is day nine of the 12-day conference.
As always it’s a busy slate for the delegates at COP15, with today’s agenda including three meetings by the African Group, discussions on biodiversity, private sector involvement in emissions reductions and improving public awareness. The entire conference is moving forward under the cloud of a walk-out protest yesterday by African delegates , signalling the depths of the rift between developing and developed nations.
The gap between developed and developing nations was also highlighted in the release of a “blueprint” that outlines three options for long-term climate aid — rather than short-term financing of the kind announced earlier by the EU. While this aid would ultimately assist poorer nations in their efforts to combat the effects of climate change, the blueprint doesn’t include any financial commitments.
Meanwhile, Japan’s prime minister is set to reveal $10 billion US in climate change funding when he and other world leaders arrive toward the end of the week. And China, a developing nation whose growing economy has placed it among the world’s largest powers, has indicated it will reduce the amount of funding it intends to seek, freeing up funds for poorer nations.
As a side event to COP15, today will include a debate on the implications of climate change on international security. Because of its destabilizing effect, climate change has the potential to increase the likelihood of global conflicts. Potential issues include increasingly scarce water and food, mass immigrations from affected areas, increased health risks such as heat waves and disease spread by insects, and the general fact of global uncertainty over the planet’s future condition. Along with a separate panel debate on adaptation projects in coastal areas, where flooding risks provide another real danger of climate change, today’s discussions will be as much about dealing with the concrete dangers of climate change as they are about securing concrete commitments from member nations.
December 14, 2009
To make sense of all the information coming out of the COP15 conference in Copenhagen, Flow will be running a series of daily blog entries to keep you up-to-date on the latest news from the largest climate change event in the world. Today is day eight of the 12-day conference.
Weekend roundup: COP 15 Days 6 and 7
- Mexico announced voluntary emissions cuts (reducing CO2 emissions by 50 million tons a year starting in 2012).
- India rejected the idea of a “peaking” year, instead offering to reduce carbon intensity (reductions relative to productivity or economic output.
- Lumumba Stanislaus Di-Aping, the chief negotiator for the Group of 77, called the EU’s recently announced annual climate change funding “insignificant.”
- More than 200 protesters were detained on Sunday, held under a Danish law that allows preventative arrests. This followed the detention of 968 protestors on Saturday.
At a conference dealing with deadlines that stretch into the world’s foreseeable future, it’s no surprise that all the news coming out of COP15 hasn’t been good.
The biggest news at today’s meetings was likely the suspension of COP15’s main session before noon after a walk-out protest by African nations. There were fears that the dissent, already seen in earlier sessions that highlighted the gap between developed and developing nations, could have led to some national leaders refusing to join their negotiators at the end of the week. By the evening, however, the boycott (by then backed by 135 developing countries including China) had ended.
From dissent to deforestation, an earlier proposal to fund efforts to save tropical rainforests suffered a setback today with language specifying funding being struck from the draft agreement. Meanwhile, the secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity released a report outlining the potentially disastrous implications of CO2 emissions on ocean acidification.
But there has to be good news too. In consensus news, Norway and Mexico launched a joint model for climate change funding. The so-called Green Fund could start around 10 billion dollars per year by 2013 and increase to 30 – 40 billion dollars by 2020
Today was also the first day of the Copenhagen Climate Summit for Mayors. As the largest single contributor to the world’s primary energy use, cities will play an essential role in any global climate change action plan, and Canadian mayors will be at the table. Canadian cities represented include Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto.
December 11, 2009
To make sense of all the information coming out of the COP15 conference in Copenhagen, Flow will be running a series of daily blog entries to keep you up-to-date on the latest news from the largest climate change event in the world. Today is day five of the 12-day conference.
The European Union came out swinging today and landed a resounding blow with its commitment of €2.4 billion annually to a fund that would provide short-term funding for developing nations dealing with the consequences of climate change. Among other uses, the money could finance coastal protection, preserve forests, improve health care or transition from fossil fuel to low-carbon alternative like solar and wind power. The EU had failed to reach a consensus on Thursday, illustrating differences between the Western and Eastern bloc nations that bear similarities to the economic divide between developed and developing nations.
Today’s announcements also included $25 US billion to save tropical forests, Japan’s announcement that it wouldn’t commit to emissions reductions without commiserate goals for the United States and China and the first “official” draft agreement, produced by a group operating under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Though all of the official draft’s goals are very conditional, they include:
- Reducing global emissions by half by 2050 compared to 1990 levels (or 80 percent and 95 per cent, as alternatives, with an interim target to be set for 2020)
- Global warming must be kept below 1.5 degrees Celsius
- “Substantial deviations” from the present rate of growth in emissions in the developing world
Relevant to the draft agreement’s specific mention of developing nations, this morning’s news also includes the fact that, last night, the G-77’s chair, Lumumba Stanislaus Di-Aiping, walked out in anger. Di-Aiping was the same one who, two days ago, charged developed nations with marginalizing the developing world in light of the “Copenhagen Accord.” Never a dull moment in a conference concerned with invisible gases.
December 11, 2009
To make sense of all the information coming out of the COP15 conference in Copenhagen, Flow will be running a series of daily blog entries to keep you up-to-date on the latest news from the largest climate change event in the world. Today is day four of the 12-day conference.
First a Danish draft agreement caused a stir and now another draft agreement, this time an accord drafted by China, India, South Africa and Brazil is shaking things up. Drafted in November, the accord calls for developed nations to “multiply by eight” their emissions reductions under Kyoto, contrasting the decreased onus on developed nations seen in the Danish “Copenhagen Agreement.” Under that agreement, more control over emission targets would be transferred to the World Bank, which is seen as an increase in control by industrialized nations.
The Group of 77, primarily constituted by developing nations, made a very public declaration again today, calling on US President Barack Obama to increase the ambitiousness of its emissions targets and increase funding for climate change action. Given the global scope of climate change, expect further fissures between developed and developing nations to emerge. And fashion designers too, apparently.
A fashion show launched The Nordic Initiative Clean and Ethical (NICE), a commitment by the Nordic fashion industry to improve their environmental and social responsibility. While it’s harder to take a group of designers chiming into the proceedings than, say, 77 of the world’s developing nations, cotton production does account for 25 per cent of global pesticide use. Either way, as the public posturing continues, it seems appropriate to have at least one group represented that poses professionally.
And if staying aware of the goings on at COP15 seems exhausting from across the pond, just imagine the added difficulty in trying to raise it yourself by biking around the world. Kim Nguyen travelled 15,000 km from Brisbane, Austrilia and arrived at the conference four days ago. The rest of us can just probably just keep up with Flow.
December 9, 2009
To make sense of all the information coming out of the COP15 conference in Copenhagen, Flow will be running a series of daily blog entries to keep you up-to-date on the latest news from the largest climate change event in the world. Today is day three of the 12-day conference.
If there was something that every delegate and conference watcher could agree on, it would certainly be that confrontation would be bursting out of Copenhagen on a near-daily basis. Today’s brouhaha concerns the draft of a compromise agreement and the resulting rebuke from the chair of the Group of 77, an organization constituted mainly by developing nations. The draft, some say, suggests not only an abandonment of the Kyoto Protocol, but also of the focus on the emissions of developing nations. Where developing nations were previously exempt from emission restrictions, the Danish draft is seen as a shift away from this privileged position. The Danes are saying the draft is intended only as a compromise document but it’s likely that its sentiment, at least, will continue to provide contention in the conference’s climate talks.
Other Copenhagen news includes a back and forth between China and the United States over the severity of US emissions reductions, and a pointed response to the furor over publically released climate change emails from the University of East Anglia by Nicholas Stern. Stern suggests that the emails’ release has confused the situation for climate change sceptics, which isn’t hard to understand considering the mountains of highly technical, and often jealousy guarded, data in question.
Flow readers, thankfully, are luckier: Eliminating confusion is always the goal here.
December 8, 2009
To make sense of all the information coming out of the COP15 confence in Copenhagen, Flow will be running a series of daily blog entries to keep you up-to-date on the latest news from the largest climate change event in the world. Today is day two of the 12-day conference.
Certainly today’s most talked-about Copenhagen moment was US President Barack Obama’s announcement that greenhouse gases would now be considered a health hazard, giving the Environmental Protection Agency the power to to regulate industrial emissions. Given the difficulties of negotiating domestic GHG regulation (let alone on the global scale that the Copenhagen delegates are tackling), the fact that a single body in one of the world’s largest two emitters has the power to drastically affect industrial policy is a major coup. But while the US is certainly one of the most looked-at participants in the conference, it joins 191 other countries in the conference’s meetings.
Among others, today’s meeting topics include “China and the world: Solving climate change through practical, on-the-ground collaboration,” “Trade liberalisation and its role in technology diffusion: A look at the renewable energy, buildings” and “Developing Country Implementation Strategies and Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs)”. Every day of the confernece also includes a variety of side events, including an update from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on its renewable energy reports and a four-part series on low carbon scenarios in Denmark, France, Germany and the UK. Renault’s Zero Emission Transportation – Taking a Step Towards the Future in Copenhagen, will be taking place in parallel with the conference today, highlighting zero-emission vehicles.