Global Leaders Leave Job Unfinished

Global Leaders Leave Job Unfinished

“Greenwash” agreement won’t stop dangerous climate change

“Global Leaders came to Copenhagen carrying the expectations of their populations but have failed to deliver a real solution. The political agreement struck at Copenhagen falls short in so many areas that it cannot form a reliable basis for limiting temperature rise to below 2°C. Leaders must stop presenting this as progress and realise that their citizens expect real action not greenwash.”

commented Nick Mabey, Chief Executive of E3G.

The Copenhagen negotiations ended today with a political agreement and a loose commitment to develop the details over the next 12 months. This followed an unprecedented full day of direct negotiations between Leaders when they were forced to step in and rescue the failed talks.

Initial analysis of the agreement suggests that it fails the 2°C test in several areas:

  • No commitment to medium term emission goals to drive significant action such as peaking by 2020 or halving global emissions by 2050. No operational reference to a 2°C or lower goal.
  • No agreement on specific emission reduction commitments – these are delayed until February 2010 and may be far away from a 2°C trajectory even in the short term. The EU has announced it will not move to 30% based on this deal, implying that global emissions will be far from a 2°C compatible pathway in 2020.
  • No deadline to complete a legally binding instrument or instruments to lock in progress made during two years’ of negotiations on issues such as technology and forestry
  • No requirement to review whether the agreement is consistent with the latest science: the Parties “call for” rather than committing that they “will review”
  • No commitment to a compliance mechanism on US targets that would ensure comparability with other developed countries under the Kyoto Protocol
  • No reliable public finance commitment for 2015 and weak ambition for 2020. No commitment that long term public finance for developing countries will be additional to aid for poverty reduction, leaving the door open for diversion of funds from other development objectives
  • No clarity on closing of loopholes for surplus “hot air” credits or for emissions from land use change and international shipping and aviation. This could radically reduce the already weak mitigation pledges and leave a gap larger than the entire first Kyoto commitment period

This agreement fails to provide a secure foundation for a below 2°C future and may even undermine the existing climate change architecture of the Kyoto Protocol. Leaders must go home and tell the public how they plan to fix it. This outcome will outrage the millions of people who have called on governments to seal an effective deal in Copenhagen. Over the next few months civil society needs to keep up the pressure on leaders with a clear message to get the job done in the first half of 2010.

Countries are already looking to appoint blame for the failure. The US and China were at the heart of this political agreement and must take primary responsibility for its lack of ambition. But the absence of a strong voice from more progressive countries like the EU and Brazil let this deal undermine their ambitions. The reality is that all countries will suffer as this deal is bad for everyone. Much of the blame must also fall on old sunset industries dependent on fossil fuels. Rather than embracing the future, much of big business has worked to limit ambition and hold back progress in these talks.

“We need to reset this process and start again. Negotiators may be tired now but there is still an urgent job to do to turn this messy compromise into a real deal. Every hour of delay, more carbon enters the atmosphere and more polluting investment is built. Progressive countries must not let the pace of the slowest determine their ambition in moving forward a low carbon transition,”

Nick Mabey concluded.


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