Analysis of the Copenhagen Accord

Climate summit: Copenhagen Accord in detail

ENDS Europe
Monday 21 December 2009

After two weeks of sluggish negotiations and political drama, December’s UN climate summit ended with a weak declaration that failed to receive the backing of all UNFCCC parties. ENDS offers the following summary of key points in the Copenhagen Accord.

*The accord agrees that deep global cuts in emissions are required “according to science… with a view… to hold the increase in global temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius.” But there are no medium or long term targets for global emissions reductions required to do this.

*Rising global emissions should peak then fall “as soon as possible”, but no date is specified. The same sentence says, at China’s insistence, that “social and economic development and poverty eradication are the first and over-riding priorities of developing countries.”

*Developed countries commit to register their formal emissions reduction pledges for the year 2020 by the end of January 2010. For the majority of them who have ratified the 1997 Kyoto protocol, that starts the process of creating a second commitment period for emission curbs.

*A convoluted paragraph covers emission reductions by developing countries. The key issue was to get them to reduce their rising emissions below business as usual (BAU) levels by pledging “nationally appropriate mitigation actions.” They, too, are asked to register these by the end of January.

*Mitigation actions taken by developing countries will be subject to “domestic measurement, reporting and verification” with a report sent to the UNFCCC every two years. But there will be “provisions for international consultations and analysis under clearly defined guidelines that will ensure national sovereignty is respected.”

*Actions financed in part or wholly by developed countries will also be registered and subject to international monitoring. The Chinese had insisted only their emission reductions funded by rich countries should comply with the so-called MRV requirements.

*A short paragraph recognises the “crucial role” of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) and says “positive incentives” must be provided to mobilise financial resources from developed countries.

*The accord also favours “various approaches, including opportunities to use markets” to promote cost-effective emission reductions. That keeps the door open for cap-and-trade schemes and taxes, also for international aviation and shipping. There is no explicit reference to bunker fuels in the document.

*There are promises of large new flows of money from rich to poor countries to help them adapt to climate change and reduce their emissions. Developed countries will provide new and additional fast-track funding “approaching” $30bn over the period 2010-12, with the poorest, most vulnerable countries getting priority.

*Developed countries also “commit to a goal of mobilising jointly US$100bn a year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries”. But this funding depends on those developing countries taking “meaningful” actions to cut emissions and “transparency on implementation”.

*Multilateral funding for adaptation (but not emissions reductions) will be governed in a way which provides equal representation for developed and developing countries. Developing nations insisted on this; they do not want the money controlled by bodies dominated by rich nations, such as the World Bank.

*An unspecified but “significant” proportion of the climate money should flow through a new “Copenhagen Green Climate Fund”, which will also finance emissions reduction measures in the developing world. A new “Technology Mechanism” aims to accelerate the transfer and development of clean technologies.

*There will be a review of the accord’s implementation in 2015. This review will include considering whether the goal should be to prevent global average temperatures rising by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.

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