December 19, 2009
Copenhagen - After a marathon all night session, talks aimed at injecting new and more wide-ranging momentum into the international effort to combat climate change ended with a positive outcome.
Countries attending the UN climate convention's summit in the Danish capital agreed to 'take note' of a document entitled the Copenhagen Accord.
For the first time in the history of climate change cooperation, developing countries including Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa and the small and threatened Republic of the Maldives outlined intentions to decouple emissions from economic growth.
Developed countries including the United States will also outline a range of emission reductions targets up to 2020 by 1 February 2010. Both commitments and intentions in terms of greenhouse gas reductions will be subject to international monitoring and verification.
Countries accepted to work towards limiting the rise in global temperatures to below 2 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels. However, emission reduction commitments by 2050 were in the end not included in the final document.
Importantly, the Accord outlines support for technology transfer and capacity building for developing economies while also putting forward a financial package aimed at assisting developing ones adapt to climate change and to begin de-carbonizing their economies.
Additional resources of US$30 billion, covering the period 2010-2012, will be available immediately and developed nations also supported a "goal of mobilizing jointly US$100 billion a year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries".
The Accord recognized the crucial role of forests in addressing climate change, saying their was a need to recognize reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) via the immediate establishment of a mechanism to enable the mobilization of financial resources from developed countries.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agricultural Organization and the UN Development Programme are spearheading the UN REDD programme which is already assisting close to a dozen developing countries prepare for a REDD regime.
UN-REDD dovetails with other initiatives, including the World Bank's Forest Carbon Partnership Facility.
The culmination of two weeks of talks and two years of negotiations, today's outcome was welcomed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who said: "The U.N. system will work to immediately start to deliver meaningful results to people in need and jump-start clean-energy growth in developing countries."
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of UNEP, said: "This was perhaps not the big breakthrough some had hoped for, but neither was it a breakdown which at times seemed a possibility. The litmus test of developed countries' ambitions will in a sense come immediately. If the funds promised in the Accord start flowing swiftly and to the levels announced, then a new international climate change policy may have been born."
He said that the outcome represented a compromise of a myriad of differing national and economic interests including developed, developing, least developed and small-island developing states.
"Trying to take over 190 countries through the same door towards a more cooperative global warming policy has proved challenging but, ultimately possible and do-able. Time will be the true judge as to whether 19 December 2009 was indeed an historic date for accelerating a response to combating dangerous climate change and for more sustainable management of economically important ecosystems, such as forests," said Mr. Steiner.
He said he hoped the outcome would also restore certainty to global carbon markets by demonstrating a scaled-up international commitment to climate change while assisting to focus and to catalyze the investments -including private sector ones-towards a low carbon economy.
Mr. Steiner said the aim of limiting a global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius had fallen short of the calls of many countries, including ones in Africa and small-island developing states who had been urging for temperatures to be pegged no higher than 1.5 degree Celsius.
But he said hoped that with the Accord underway, it may be possible to accelerate the international response and ambition on reducing greenhouse gases in order to achieve a far lower overall temperature rise in 40 years time than below 2 degrees Celsius.
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United Nations Climate Change Conference http://www.unep.org/climatechange/CopenhagenCOP15/Day12/tabid/2658/language/en-US/Default.aspx
Seal the Deal 2009 http://www.sealthedeal2009.org/
The UN-led Seal the Deal campaign, working with various civil society groups, coalesced around 13 million signatures from all around the world asking for a fair, equitable and ambitious deal.
These signatures were collected, along with people's stories, videos, photos and testimonies citing the impact of climate change upon their livelihoods and health, and placed on an electronic data stick within a silver "people's orb". The Orb having been present throughout various events during the two-week climate summit to represent civil society, has been taken to New York with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
Speaking on Saturday, Mr. Ban said he welcomed the deal. "It may not be everything we hoped for, but this decision of the Conference of Parties is an essential beginning and we must transform this into a legally binding treaty next year. The importance will only be recognised when it is codified into international law," he said.