Climate Change Report from Copenhagen 5

Integral Ecology | Thu, Dec 17, 2009

By Cliona Sharkey
Source: Center of Concern, CIDSE

Dear all,

A long awaited update from inside the Bella Centre.

As all will have no doubt gathered from the media coverage, the COP has taken a number of unforeseen turns since the weekend, some predictable, some less so. 

Discussions were stalled on Monday for a number of hours when African Ministers protested at the proposal by the Danish Presidency to focus the remainder technical negotiations before the Ministers arrived on the Long-term Cooperative Action negotiation track (the track under in which all countries including the US are involved) with only a very limited amount of time dedicated to discussions on the second commitment period of the Protocol. This was seen as another attempt to sideline the Kyoto Protocol, the track which involves new and binding developed country targets.  

There was great concern amongst many civil society organisations that this incident was giving further fuel to the media fire that is allowing developed countries to blame developing countries for blocking the negotiations.  See below, CIDSE and Caritas Internationalis’ most recent press releases on Monday and today for our response. 

The negotiations indeed appeared to have reached a serious impasse in the last 24hours. After informal consultations on Monday negotiations restarted, and continued late into the night on both Monday and Tuesday to try to finalise texts under both negotiation tracks to send to the meeting of Environment Ministers in the COP and CMP plenaries on Wednesday.  However, after a night of unconstructive negotiation, including a reported push-back from the US on any language in the LCA on binding commitments to emerge from Copenhagen, rather than final conclusions the Ministers were presented with two texts, one of which was framed by an all encompassing bracket, and the other of which contained a variety of bracketed options, with the possibility of Parties coming with further proposals! 

Thus negotiations at the technical level failed to achieve much needed progress in advance of the High Level Segment, although progress has reportedly been better under adaptation and technology discussions.  The pressure is therefore truly on Ministers and most of all Heads of State to deliver on the breakthrough their technocrats could not.

At the end of the meetings of the COP and CMP yesterday, there was some surprise and confusion when the Chair of the COP, the Danish Climate Chief Connie Hedegaard announced her resignation as President of the COP.  Her place as head of the COP will be taken by the Danish Prime Minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, whilst Hedegaard will continue to steer the negotiations as his Special Representative.  Although there is speculation as to possible undercurrents within the Danish government regarding this move, it appears that in fact this was a predicted procedural decision.  The COP has never been attended by Heads of State in the past, with Environment Ministers usually representing the governments.  Protocol prompted the Danes to have Hedegaarde step aside to allow the Prime Minister to preside over the High Level Segment.  Most importantly, however, in Hedegaard’s announcement she announced that the Danish Presidency would be introducing new texts under both negotiating tracks this afternoon, which would be based on, but essentially replace the texts prepared by the Working Groups over the previous days.

However, before the statements by Environment Ministers could begin under the first session of the High Level Segment several points of order were made from the floor by Brazil, supported by China, Sudan on behalf of G77, the Maldives and Ecuador to object to the host country putting out a new text that has ‘come from the blue, and not representing the work done by Parties in the multilateral process. The COP Chair responded that the intention is to ensure the Conference will deliver results and not just talk on procedure, procedure, procedure. He said the Presidency wanted to be transparent and inclusive but still also ensure effectiveness.

As a result, the Presidency’s plan to introduce its proposed texts was delayed until Thursday.  With time running ever shorter, the pressure has been intense to make progress in the next 24hours. Statements on Wednesday evening from politicians expressed frustration, but all impressed the need to achieve an agreement.

 Another significant development has been suggestions of a France-Ethiopia position, also now being reported as an ´EU-Africa’ position.  In interventions in the proceedings and joint press work Ethiopia claimed to be presenting the views of Africa, whilst the new proposals he put forward in fact fall far below the African position adopted a few months ago, both on mitigation and on scale of financing. Ethiopia does not represent the African Group in the UN, but it does head up a group under the African Union on climate change, and has previously acted as a spokesperson on the African position.  There has been a stern push back from several African Ministers and from African civil society because, although there seem to be some positive elements in the finance aspect of the proposal (support for setting up innovative financing mechanisms for example), it sacrifices crucial elements of the African position of a 1.5 degree C stabilisation level, and the scale of public financing.

As we head into the endgame negotiations are going on day and night, with constant rumours and speculation, and with information often out of date by the time it is shared as the pace, tension and stakes rise. For example, now it has reached Thursday, the Danish Presidency has held back on issuing its new texts and negotiations on the texts prepared by the LCA and KP working groups will continue until tomorrow morning, with a stock taking plenary planned for later today. If the groups fail to remove the multitude of brackets in the texts in the next few hours, it is still possible that the Danish Presidency will introduce its alternative text.

Whilst the statement by the Chinese in the last hours that no operational agreement would be reached in Copenhagen dampened hopes of progress even further, the last 12 hours have seen a flurry of announcements coming from Japan on short term financing, and most importantly the US on longterm financing. These announcements have likely re-injected momentum, but there are many questions on the substance. The Japanese have said nothing on longterm financing, and it is not clear whether the money is new, or a repackaging of previously made aid commitments. The US announcement on 100bn echoed an intervention made by Gordon Brown this morning in the Bella Centre, based on an EU position adopted in October. The announcement was made by Hillary Clinton who stressed the link between such financing and transparency of emissions actions in major developing countries. She failed to echo Gordon Brown’s emphasis on the importance of additionality of climate financing. Despite misgivings regarding the questions of the sources and governance of the scale acknowledged by Clinton, many recognize that she is taking a political gamble with the aim of securing a deal.

Oscillation between, yes we can and no we can’t, and whether the agreement will be politically or legally binding here in Copenhagen or later continues and seems now further confused by introduction of the term, ‘operational’ agreement. The EU, which supported yesterday in the High Level Segment the need to come to a comprehensive and binding outcome will be centre stage this evening, with EU Ministerial meetings ongoing and Heads of State set to meet this evening. Will the EU now move to 30%? Will they concretise their contribution to financing beyond short term?

Of course, however, what we want is not a deal at any cost, but a binding agreement that will deliver sufficient emission reductions in developed countries and sufficient secure new and additional short and longterm financing for developing countries to enable them to adapt and to pursue sustainable development, and our assessment of any agreement will be based on an analysis of to what extent these criteria are securely met.

As you will also have no doubt heard, logistics have proved too much for the Danes, and lack of coordinated planning with the UNFCCC Secretariat and bad decision making over the last week saw hundreds of people, many of whom had travelled across the world to be here, standing in the freezing cold for hours on end outside the Bella Centre.  The fact is that a large number of them, including many from our own CIDSE-Caritas delegation, did not manage to enter the official conference.  Security hikes over the next few days now see nearly the entire civil society representation in Copenhagen excluded from the final days of the talks.  Frustrated crowds marched to the Bella Centre today, and although there are always those who get carried away, the vast majority continue to focus their efforts on using any methods they can, inside or outside the Bella Centre, to call for climate justice.

Three CIDSE-Caritas press people are still in the Bella Centre, as are two of our policy people. Between a non-stop flow of email exchange and live webcasts civil society is doing its best to keep up the pressure through campaign and media work. A number of CIDSE and Caritas member organisations have mobilised their Bishops to sign on to a short media letter calling for the EU to step up its position without further delay.

More to come…

Regards from a very tired but determined crew in Copenhagen,

Cliona (and Christine in spirit!)


CIDSE & Caritas news release – for immediate release

14 December 2009

Catholic development agencies say rich countries block climate talks

Copenhagen - The UN climate talks were brought to a halt this morning as a result of a standoff between African nations and rich countries, who are trying to wriggle out of their responsibilities.

CIDSE and Caritas Internationalis, together the world’s largest development alliance, claim developed countries, including Japan and Russia, are undermining the climate talks by attempting to sideline the Protocol, currently the only legally binding instrument that regulates climate change. Including binding emission reductions for developed countries, it provides the world’s poorest with at least some protection from further devastating climate change impacts and poverty.

Niamh Garvey of Trocaire, Irish member of the CIDSE and Caritas networks, said: "As heads of state come to Copenhagen in this second week, it’s up to rich countries to get the talks back on track by re-committing to the Kyoto Protocol. Africa's decision to suspend discussions on other elements of the talks, backed by most of the G77, resulted from their fear that rich countries are trying to kill the strongest legal climate agreement we have."

Rown Popplewell of CIDSE and Caritas’ Scottish member SCIAF said: "Abandoning the Kyoto Protocol would be a step back for all countries, but especially for the world’s poorest. For them the negotiations are a matter of survival. Vulnerable communities across the world need a fair, ambitious and binding climate agreement, of which the Kyoto Protocol is an essential element."

CIDSE & Caritas Internationalis News release – for immediate release
16 December 2009

Heads of State need to break climate deadlock and show moral leadership, Catholic development agencies say

Copenhagen – CIDSE and Caritas Internationalis, the world's largest development alliance, urge Heads of State arriving at the climate conference today to get the talks back on track and agree an ambitious and binding deal that is fair for the world’s poorest.
The Danish Summit Chief, Connie Hedegaard was replaced by the Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen on Wednesday. This marks the upping of the political stakes as Heads of State prepare to thrash out core issues, as well as the lack of progress made so far. Talks went on late into the night on Tuesday with little results, leaving much work to be done by Heads of State in the final two days of the talks.
"We must be clear what is causing the current deadlock; developed country commitments on emission reductions and support to developing countries fall far short of what science and justice requires. Developed countries hold the historical responsibility for climate change, which is impacting profoundly already on developing countries. They simply cannot shirk their responsibilities," said CIDSE Secretary General Bernd Nilles. "Heads of State must feel the weight of the public and moral outpouring over the last months and during this last week in Copenhagen and around the world. The people are ready, we need our leaders to move," he added. 
Stephen Mutiso from Kenya, working for CIDSE member Trocaire/Caritas Ireland, commented on the stalled negotiations: "Attempts to portray this as a North South issue, or that developing countries are blocking, are misconstrued and deeply misguided. This is a question of the safeguarding of the future of the human family, we are all one, and we have a moral responsibility to protect the most vulnerable amongst us," he said. In a message for the World Day of Peace on January the 1st, sent to heads of state in time for the climate talks, Pope Benedict XVI addressed the responsibility of developed countries for climate change. He said that it is ‘all too evident that large numbers of people in different countries and areas of our planet are experiencing increased hardship because of the negligence or refusal of many others to exercise responsible stewardship over the environment.’