Wednesday, December 23, 2009

COP15 Outcomes and Opinions

The dust is settling after the whirlwind of COP15 in Copenhagen. The outcome of twelve days of intense negotiations has come to an ambiguous result at best.

At the eleventh hour political leaders agreed to an Accord that was negotiated outside of the official United Nations proceedings. Most nations have agreed to this Accord, but they are not bound by it and there are no mechanisms to make it binding. Some claim it's the realpolitic of high level negotiations and was the only way to get the big players at the table. Others claim it was was unorthodox, undemocratic, non-transparent, and exclusionary.

The good
  • there was an agreement
  • both USA and China were involved
  • the target of 2 degrees is the first admission by the US of the aggressive level of action required and the agreement to review an attempt to lower the target to 1.5 degrees is even better
  • recognition that developed countries have a carbon debt that they owe to the developing countries
The bad
  • there is nothing to bind participants to any standards of measurement or action
  • there is nothing to bind parties to their financial commitment toward adaptation and mitigation in developing countries
  • the 30 billion startup fund and 100 billion to 2020 is woefully inadequate to address the level of input needed to assist developing nations in addressing climate change
  • there are no timelines or prescriptive actions
  • the 2 degree temperature limit is a death knell for small island states and many of the more vulnerable regions of the world

We shall see how it plays out over the next year, whether the accord stays relevant and forms the foundation for a binding agreement or if it turns out to be simply a publicity play that goes nowhere. The next few months will tell the real story of Copenhagen.

You can read the full text of the Copenhagen Accord here.

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