New review of Copenhagen

There are, of course, many reviews of COP15 that one can assign to students, including a number that have been reviewed recently on the blog. However, one of the best ones I’ve reviewed to date is: Benito Mueller, Copenhagen 2009: Failure or Final Wake-Up Call for Our Leaders?, Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, Feb. 2010. Mueller not only provides an excellent summary of the key developments from the meeting, including a really good analysis of the Copenhagen Accord and the AWG-LCA and AWG-KP texts, but he also explains the political machinations at the meeting that may have had a profound impact on the outcomes, a critical contextual analysis absent in many of the other pieces I’ve seen.

Among the key take-aways from the report:

  1. The reference in the mitigation section of the Copenhagen Accord to equitable considerations leaves open the possibility that the global emissions reduction burden could be shared equitably, perhaps on the basis of common but differentiated responsibilities;
  2. It is unclear whether only small island states and less developed countries will be elgible for financial support for mitigation efforts, or whether other non-Annex I States will also be eligible. Mueller cites an analysis that concludes that other non-Annex I States may be eligible on a case-by-case basis as determined by the inchoate Copenhagen Green Climate Fund;
  3. It is possible that the High Level panel established by the parties at Copenhagen to explore potential sources of revenue for the funding mechanisms in  Accord could hep facilitate funding, or could detract if it’s used as an alternative negotiating forum to the AWG-LCA financial negotiations;
  4. A red flag in the financing context is whether the U.S. will seek to engineer a burden-sharing arrangement for the Green Climate Fund, meaning that all Parties would be expected to contribute;
  5. It is unclear at this point if the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund is meant to manage the $10 billion in “fast start” money proposed in the Accord, and the interface of this fund with the AWG-LCA’s proposed Climate Fund/Facility; [Editor’s note: many of us believe that the regime already has way too many different funding mechanisms, a source of frustration and confusion for many Parties seeking to avail themselves of such funds]
  6. The “blame game” that ensued after Copenhagen, with Parties e.g. China and India excoriating each other in the press, is not helpful, particularly since much of it was carried out at the Ministerial level;
  7. Some Parties to the UNFCCC believe that Copenhagen may have spelled the end to large-scale multilateral initiatives; as one Indian official commented, “small group pacts may become more important than multilateral treaties;”
  8. It is noteworthy that the Chinese and Indian notifications post-Copenhagen did not reference the Copenhagen Accord;
  9. While there may be merit in reexamining the consensus rule in the climate regime, many States beyond those who openly opposed adoption of the Copenhagen Accord were angered by the lack of transparency in many aspects of the negotiations, including the release early on of the Danish text and work of the Friends of the Chair group.

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