Friday, March 12, 2010

Toothless Copenhagen Accord

China and the United States have both been blamed for the lackluster contents of the United Nation’s Copenhagen Accord on climate change. While the meeting, which involved 193 nations and 110 heads of state, widely recognized a definition of ‘dangerous climate change’—a global temperature rise of 2C from pre-industrial times—it contained no reference to a legally binding agreement, said the BBC. The United States is blamed for ignoring the critical needs of developing nations and striking a deal behind their back with ‘significant economies’, China, Brazil, India and South Africa. Others blame China for removing key climate change targets from the text which campaigners said would have given the accord ‘teeth’ and even made it legally binding. According to the Guardian, in a late night heads-of-state meeting it was the Chinese delegation who did not want to include industrialized country targets—as high as 80 percent by 2050 for the European Union—even though these had been previously agreed. The peaking year of 2020 for CO2 global emissions, essential to restrain temperatures of 2C, was also taken out upon Chinese demand, as was the maximum global temperature rise of 1.5C, so coveted by developing nations and small island states. One hundred and two nations poor nations represented at the conference called for a 1.5C cap said the Guardian. In its place the text shows that a rise of 2C is not a formal target but a recognized scientific view that the temperature should be held below that figure, said the BBC. The long-term target of a cut in global CO2 emissions of 50 percent by 2050 was also taken out upon Chinese recommendations. It is widely thought that China did not want legally binding targets that would impede its economic development. However China’s announcement prior to Copenhagen of a target of a 40-45 percent reduction in the carbon intensity of the Chinese economy by 2020 shows that regardless of a non-binding treaty, China’s current domestic policy to embrace a low carbon future will not change, said China Review. The Accord also promised $30 billion of aid for development nations over the next year to help deal with the effects of climate change and promises of rich nations jointly mobilizing $100 billion per year by 2020.

The final Copenhagen Accord, including all previous amendments and proposed changes are listed on the website of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change,

No comments: