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Copenhagen Calling-What to expect?

Written By Gopal Krishna on Monday, December 07, 2009 | 5:14 AM

The Copenhagen Summit starts 7th December 2009. Here is a detailed assessment of what to expect from this 12-day long meet.

The deliberations in Bangkok & Barcelona during September, October and November 2009 have not been successful in concluding any legal text for the seemingly final round of climate change negotiations ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December, 2009 at which a comprehensive international climate change deal is to be finalized. Earlier, negotiations at the meetings in the aftermath
of COP-14 continued in Bonn, Germany with no gains in hand.

The core point under debate is the emission reduction targets of the developed countries in the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (2013-2020). The efforts by Group of 77 and China comprising of 131 developing countries like India and China is aimed at making the industrialized countries take obligations for pollution reduction as a logical step in view of their historical responsibility but there is no progress on it so far. The first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol comes to an end in 2012.

India and other developing countries have proposed that industrialized countries should reduce their emissions by at least 40 percent by 2020, compared to 1990 because it is they who have emitted almost all the excess green house gases (GHG) that has led to dangerous interference with the atmosphere.

Attempts by US and EU to terminate the Kyoto protocol’s next phase have not succeeded so far. A joint statement by G-77 and China (comprising of 131 countries) in Barcelona, Spain on November 6, 2009 at the last plenary of Ad Hoc Working Group Under Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) before Copenhagen abundantly demonstrates their position that "a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol must be established for a period beyond 2012 as the legal basis for comparable Annex I emission reduction commitments." The Group of 77 and China looks forward to achieving a momentous and historical international climate change outcome in Copenhagen.

The stalemate is evident and so far any possibility of radical breakthrough is not in sight. It appears that the routine pronouncement of they being “committed to working together and with other countries in the weeks ahead for a successful outcome at Copenhagen” only reveals that they would work together bilaterally and with all other countries for an agreed outcome at that meeting.

This amounts to agreeing to US position of taking domestic action instead of an internationally legally binding action. No one knows the exact contours of the “agreed outcome” which would pave the way for the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol that commences in 2013.

The Group of G-77 and China are "strongly stand against all attempts by developed countries to reach an agreement which could in any way result in the Kyoto Protocol being superseded or made redundant. G 77 and China has reaffirmed that the core mandate of the AWG-KP is to define the second and subsequent commitment periods with ambitious quantified emission reductions for developed countries that will significantly contribute to the minimization of future impacts of climate change on developing countries."

Venezuela, a member of G-77 and China group has voiced objection to proposals seeking to “market the atmosphere,” which he said amounted to a situation wherein they “who pays may pollute.” The developing countries have said that developed countries are using “green excuses” to get out of their historical responsibilities. They have underlined that market approaches play a limited role in the Kyoto
Protocol and are not mentioned in the UN Convention, suggesting their inclusion poses a legal problem.

India emphasized that climate technology transfer does not refer to commercial transfer but to concessional transfer.

US along with the EU and other industrialized are emphasizing the importance of the private sector and the carbon markets towards financing of the climate solutions. In the context of private sector funding, India and China drew attention to the unpredictability of private finance, double counting arising from emission reductions achieved through offset mechanisms like carbon markets, estimates concerning how much finance the private sector and markets could generate has been exaggerated and the structural link between climate change and markets. Developed countries are seeking to erase the distinction between developed and developing countries and impose new mitigation and reporting commitments on the latter.

G77 and China have opposed such proposals, noting historical responsibility and the clear distinction between mitigation by developed and developing countries, also reflected in the Bali Action Plan.

Given such state of affairs which appear to be guided by forces bigger than sovereign nation states nothing beyond a political statement or a COP Decision is expected from Copenhagen, Denmark.
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