Climate Change Report from Copenhagen 2

Integral Ecology | Tue, Dec 8, 2009

By Cliona Sharkey
Source: Center of Concern, CIDSE

Leak of developed nations' document proposal creates shock waves.  Negotiations as usual?

Daily update No. 2.  AtmosphereWhen we arrived this morning the number of people in the Bella Centre appeared to have doubled.  We were met by the wonderful sound of indigenous drums and song as various groups called for the protection of their rights under a new climate agreement.  The number and range of stunts and activities are also growing, varying from the procession of huge handmade trees throughout the conference centre to raise awareness of forest issues, to goodwill gestures such as the Greenpeace staff standing in the cold handing out free coffees to people as they wait to enter the building. Political developmentsA lot has happened in the short space of time since the conference began, but the jury is still out in the cold as to where we are headed.  The Conference opened yesterday with formal sessions featuring the Prime Minister of Denmark as the host and President of the Conference, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer, Dr. Rajendra K. Pauchauri of the IPCC and Connie Hedegaard, the Danish Environment Minister who has been steering the UNFCCC process at Ministerial level throughout 2009.  The interventions were positive and motivating in tone; Connie Hedegaard in particular called on Parties to get moving, ‘we have to do it, and we have to do it now’, she said.   However, as you may have already seen in the press, the Danish Presidency has come into public disrepute in the last 24hours.  Rumours of an alternative ‘Danish text’ for the Copenhagen agreement has been circulating for some time. However, on Tuesday evening the story hit the press with a bang when the text was leaked to the UK publication, ‘The Guardian’.  Although this has allowed civil society and developing countries to come out publically and criticize the Danish government, negotiation veterans appear non-plussed, assuring us that this is all ‘part of the pantomime’.   Another story which may or may not have reached you which relates, is the existence of another more recent alternative text proposal by a small number of developing countries, labeled the ’BASICS’ text’, by Brazil, South Africa, India, and China.  This text appeared only in the last days and has been seen by very few, but is believed to also be very weak, particularly in failing to state figures for developed country mitigation targets and the scale and sources for climate financing.  Important, however, it is believed important to see the BASICS’ text as primarily a procedural initiative that aims to ensure the Danish proposal for an alternative text is not accepted by default more than anything else.   Public statements by the Danish government following yesterday’s leak, as well as the opening speech by the Prime Minister on Monday suggested that the Danish Presidency has been forced to think a bit more about its approach to achieving an agreement. CIDSE and Caritas plan to issue a press release today, Wednesday, to refute the claims by the Danish Presidency that the Danish proposal did not exist.  See below for details and suggested messaging. Other developments, inside and outside the negotiations

As you will have seen, Gordon Brown has said that the UK wants the EU to move to 40% emissions reduction target. It is claimed that this announcement was timed ahead of the European Council on Friday because the UK expect the Council to fail to agree on this and they wish to disassociate themselves from this position.


France has also announced a domestic target of 30%, apparently to be met through entirely domestic reductions.  However, the fact that this was announced only to French press and NGOs, and within the negotiations process here, means that questions remain as to whether this is an official commitment with President Sarkozy’s approval, and what this means for France’s position on the EU target.


Sweden, Finland and Austria received a Climate Action Network ‘Fossil of the Day’ award, presented to delegations who have behaved in a particularly offensive way in the negotiations. These countries have spearheaded a position in the EU which if accepted under a new agreement would allow countries to base critical emission levels regarding landuse using criteria that would allow them to do as little as possible whilst appearing to be implementing agreed targets.  Apparently the award was picked up well in the national media; pressure will be maintained on these countries, the EU as a whole, and others not to undermine a new agreement by allowing for such flagrant practice of ‘cooking the books’.  Although perhaps a non-glamorous issue, this has the potential to completely undermine the environmental integrity of any outcome, and thus render it ineffective and unjust from a development perspective.


Indications are that EU Development Ministers will come to Copenhagen next Monday 14th, supposedly to announce an EU offer on short term financing.  Please refer again to the internal policy brief circulated last week to see CIDSE and Caritas’ views on the short term financing issue. 

 Process issues

As the opening statements were keen to point out, delegations have six days in all (two now gone) to work on the issues and on the text they have been discussing over the last months. Environment Ministers will meet next Tuesday (although many are already here!), and Heads of State will arrive on Wednesday evening or Thursday. Time is short and precious.

 Negotiations have already moved mainly into closed, ‘informal’ groups, meaning civil society representatives must use their personal contacts to find out where meetings are taking place and what was discussed. Suggestions for CI-CIDSE actions The press release on the Danish proposal which should be issued on Wednesday will contain the following key messages, which you should feel free to use in your national media.  

  • We believe that statements made by the Danish Government do nothing to refute the revelations made yesterday surrounding the intentions of the Danish Presidency to introduce a new proposal just days before Heads of State are set to agree on a new deal.
  • A draft agreement, whether formal or informal, that is drawn up and promoted by the Presidency of the Conference, has significant weight. This unilateral initiative undermines the multilateral process of negotiations which has taken place between all States over the last two years.
  • Only a select few countries have been privy to the draft text, so of course it reflects the interests of the richest and most powerful countries.
  • As for the content, not only does it lack environmental integrity, it is utterly unjust, shifting the burden of responsibility for action on climate change to developing countries, with little to no short term obligatory action demanded of developed countries who hold the historical responsibility for climate change.

  EU Development Ministers

If you have any information as to whether your Development Minister will attend, and what their mandate will be, please share it with us as we would like to be prepared to act either before, or on the day.

 That’s all for day, more to come certainly, Med venlig hilsen,

Cliona and Christine