Copenhagen, Denmark | Centre for Science and Environment


Copenhagen, Denmark

 
 
An Interaction with Jairam Ramesh
 
Political declaration - Update I
 
Political declaration imminent
 
A possible Copenhagen deal - Update II
 
India expects negotiations to be extended
 
US unwilling to yield an inch
 
A possible Copenhagen deal emerges - Update I
 
A possible Copenhagen deal emerges
 
From zero to agreement in nine hours?
 
The US makes its play
 
CMP from Bella Centre
 
Things go North - Update I
 
Things go North
 
Controversial LCA Text
 
Under the microscope: Funding for NAMAs
 
Copenhagen talks resumed
 
Copenhagen talks in limbo
 
Halftime
 
Jairam Ramesh Press Conference
 
Four texts
 
News: China pushes back on adaptation finance
 
Climate Finance - Update
 
A new proposal from AOSIS
 
No Emerging Consensus on Climate Finance
 
Typical US
 
Under the microscope: LULUCF
 
Another bold move by Tuvalu - Update II
 
Another bold move by Tuvalu - Update I
 
Another bold move by Tuvalu
 
Analysis of the Danish Proposal
 
Small island states make a stand
 
The Danish Proposal Surfaces
 
Username: Equity; Password: *********
 
Reading tea leaves
 
 
January 2010, Delhi
Copenhagen Accord: Changing the framework of global climate change agreements for ineffective and iniquitous action
 
A critique by the Centre for Science and Environment.
Download pdf
January 12, 2010
India should not support the Copenhagen deal says the Centre for Science and Environment.
 
The Copenhagen Accord is weak, meaningless and fundamentally flawed. It will be bad for the fight against climate change and bad for India.
 
Press Release
Download the Presentation (pdf)
 
January 8, 2010
An Interaction with Jairam Ramesh
 
I attended a meeting organized by Aspen International on Friday, 8th January where Minister of Environment and Forests, Jairam Ramesh gave details of how the Copenhagen Accord was negotiated, the role of the BASIC group in negotiations and the domestic action needed in India.
 
Minister Ramesh enumerated the three contentious issues that cropped up in negotiations between the US and BASIC group of countries and explained how and in whose favor they were resolved.

1. Setting of a global goal for 2050. The options ranged from setting a limit in the increase in temperature, a percentage reduction in emissions and bringing down the atmospheric concentration of CO2 of 350 parts per million. Minister Ramesh said that the BASIC group prevailed over the Americans and the Europeans by setting the goal of limiting an increase in temperature to 2 degrees Celsius.

Score: BASIC-1; US/EU 0

2. The characteristic of the Accord. While the EU wanted a legally binding document to come out of CoP 15, President Obama said he was indifferent as he had a larger battle to fight on the domestic front. On the other hand, the BASIC countries only wanted a framework to strengthen negotiations on other fronts and not a legally binding document to replace the Kyoto Protocol. The developing countries were not willing to take on legally binding targets.

Score: BASIC 2; EU/US 0

The Copenhagen Accord does not require anyone to take on legally binding targets- not even industrialized countries, which should take on legally binding commitments. Instead all countries are allowed to set domestic targets which range from a 20% reduction commitment from the EU to as little as a 3% reduction commitment by the US on 1990 levels. A leaked UNFCCC paper shows that the current pledges by industrialized nations puts the world on track for at least a 3 degree Celsius rise in global temperatures.

The Copenhagen Accord conveniently lets the industrialized nations off the hook and shifts the burden onto developing nations. A glance at the numbers on the table show that the voluntary emission reductions taken on by developing countries like India, China and South Africa are far greater than the pledges put forward by Annex I nations (3.7 GtCO2e versus 2.1 GtCO2e by 2020).

3. The regime for Monitoring, Reporting and Verifying action taken by countries that are not legally bound to take mitigation action. On this issue a lot of discussion went on with the US insisting that terms like scrutiny, review, verification and assessment be included in the Accord for all mitigation action taken domestically by Non-Annex I nations- even action taken without international support. Finally there was consensus between the US and the BASIC countries on including international consultations and analysis while ensuring that national sovereignty is respected.

Score: BASIC 2.5; EU/US 0.5

I, however, do not understand the need for domestic action, which is not internationally supported either through technology or finance to be under international scrutiny. International consultations and analysis is just euphemistic language for international monitoring, reporting and verification. It becomes a sly way of bringing international commitments on developing nations.

Minister Ramesh made it amply clear that though the Copenhagen Accord was not adopted at CoP-15, the problem was with the process and not with the substance of the Accord. The Accord was not negotiated through a multilateral process but will have an influence on multilateral negotiations. “We are interested in strengthening the multilateral process,” said Ramesh. At the same time, he also announced that the nations, which authored the Copenhagen Accord “will not suddenly disown the accord.” India will announce its domestic targets based on its National Action Plan on Climate Change and include a reduction in emission intensity by 20-25 per cent on 2005 levels.

The outstanding outcome of the Copenhagen Conference, according to Ramesh was the emergence of the four (BASIC) countries as a negotiating group where countries were willing to be pragmatic to reach a solution. The BASIC group of nations will meet in the third week of January in New Delhi to decide on a consistent and firm stand on climate change action and their efforts under the Accord before formally signing it.

Ramesh reiterated his opinion about negotiating from a position of strength and to change from being a ‘naysayer’. “If you are evangelical, you can never negotiate,” said Ramesh.

The basic principles of sovereignty was maintained at the Copenhagen Conference according to Ramesh, but what about other principles, enshrined in the UNFCCC like equity and historical responsibility? The Copenhagen Accord does not even mention historical responsibility or take note that 60% of global emissions till 2007 have come from the industrialized nations. Ignoring the principle of historical responsibility, the burden easily shifts on to developing nations to cut emissions- impacting development and poverty alleviation directly.

Answering a question on what his definition of equity was and whether it was still relevant or not, Ramesh could barely contain his laughter and went red in the face before answering. He said, one of India’s main contribution to the Accord was the inclusion of the term ‘equity’ which “in India only means per capita.” “We are committed to per capita but don’t know if we will succeed at this internationally.”

Well if the Minister finds the concept of equity so amusing that he goes red in the face trying to control his laughter, chances are we won’t push the principle of equity in a serious manner at an international forum and hence, not succeed. Inequity will remain frozen and decided. An analysis by CSE shows that in 2020, with 17% of the world population, India would only have used about 4% of the cumulative carbon budget, whereas Annex I nations would have used more than 50% of the budget with 16% of the world population. What sort of climate justice is that?

Minister Ramesh might be pleased with the Copenhagen Accord and hope that it will help strengthen multilateral negotiations, but as far as I can see, the Accord is weak and fundamentally flawed. It will not stop runaway climate change and lays the foundation for doing away with the basic principles of the UNFCCC- giving industrialized nations a clean chit and shifting the burden of transition onto developing countries.

Saachi Bhalla
Research Associate, Climate Change
Centre for Science and Environment


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Copenhagen - December 18, 23:30
Political declaration - Update I
 
A deal just reached between the US and BASIC countries appears to undermine every principle of effective collective action on climate change
 
In a press briefing with selected journalists broadcast on whitehouse.gov, President Obama announced that the US has reached a deal with China, India, South Africa and Brazil.

The agreement is not legally binding in any way. It asks countries to inscribe voluntary commitments in an annex, and commit to "transparent" reporting on their progress in reaching these goals.

Obama said that non-legally binding emissions are the only possible way forward given the lack of trust between countries, and given developing countries' need not to compromise growth by taking on targets. He said he hoped that a voluntary approach would build trust and ultimately lead to conditions conducive to legally binding commitments.

It's the Australian Proposal
This is essentially the same argument as was put forward by Australian Climate Minister Penny Wong when she discussed the Australian Proposal for a pledge-and-review or "schedules" approach in September.

In October, Equitywatch reported that:
Australia contends that it's essential to have all major economies taking targets in a climate deal... but at first, countries will only sign an agreement if it’s flexible enough not to impose commitments they don’t like.

Thus, according to the perverse Australian logic: if we ultimately want countries to agree to do more, we initally have to require them do less.

Says Wong, "For developing countries, taking on international mitigation obligations for the first time is a big deal - but the flexibilities in [the schedules approach] is designed to give them greater comfort."

(Penny Wong's speeches of 21 and 22 September can found at: http://www.climatechange.gov.au/minister/wong/2009/major-speeches.aspx)

The worst possible outcome?
Details are still sketchy, but it seems that today's deal would - as with the Australian Proposal - eventually require major developing countries to take on comparable targets to developed countries. At any rate, the distinction between Annex I and non-Annex I countries would be dissolved. There is no word yet on whether the Kyoto Protocol would - or could - persist.

Since it appears to simultaneously destroy the notion of common but differentiated responsibilities, and any hope of setting global targets to avoid dangerous temperature rises, the agreement could deal a fatal blow to any hope of a fair climate treaty.

There is no word as yet from the EU or any other country in response to the White House announcement, although there are rumours that African countries plan to protest tomorrow.

It's also unclear why a deal that seems to involve only five countries is being heralded as a successful outcome in international negotiations involving almost two hundred countries.

More to come.


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Copenhagen - December 18, 21:30
Political declaration imminent
 
Non-legally binding agreement to be announced within the hour
 
Sources at the Bella Centre say a "non-legally binding" Copenhagen deal will be announced shortly.

The BASIC countries - Brazil, South Africa, India and China - had a meeting with the US delegation earlier this evening; bilateral talks between the US and other countries have also been reported. The declaration is said to be a direct result of these meetings.

Whether all countries will be signatories, however, is still unknown. Early this afternoon, the ALBA group - including Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Cuba - announced they would be walking away from further negotiations.


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Copenhagen - December 18, 19:00
A possible Copenhagen deal - Update II
 
Negotiations on a possible Copenhagen outcome text are still underway, but enthusiasm for a deal is on the wane
A series of dramatic speeches by heads of state this morning left no doubt that a substantive climate deal at Copenhagen is impossible; parties remain miles apart on all the key issues: targets, funding, accountability and the fate of Kyoto.

Still, in hopes of salvaging the conference, negotiations are still underway on a draft text that Equitywatch first reported on this morning.

Having obtained a recent iteration of the document, we note that it now puts slightly greater emphasis on the development priorities of poor countries. Specific changes include:

(a) The agreement is to be called the Copenhagen Accord.

(b) Whereas the earlier draft was envisioned as a formal agreement among Parties to the UNFCCC, the latest version would merely be an agreement among nations present at the Copenhagen summit. This formulation signals a weaker relationship to the UNFCCC.

(c) The Copenhagen Accord does not specify a deadline for establishing a legally binding agreement under the UNFCCC and/or the Kyoto Protocol. (The earlier draft set COP16 in 2010 as a deadline).

(d) It includes a new reference to a global goal of reducing emissions by 50 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050, "taking into account the right to equitable access to atmospheric space".

(e) It also includes a new commitment for Annex I countries to reduce their emissions by at least 80 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050.

(f) Earlier compromise language on the question of monitoring, reporting and verification of NAMAs appears to have been removed, pending new alternative text.

(g) A proposal for $30 billion in quick start funding to be provided to LDCs from 2010 to 2012 is now referred to more concretely as a "collective commitment by developed countries".

(h) The fate of Kyoto remains unresolved, although the language has changed.


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Copenhagen - December 18, 13:30
India expects negotiations to be extended
 
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declares that a fair deal can only be reached through further talks
In a speech immediately following President Barack Obama, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stated unequivocally that negotiations would need to continue until 2010, to strike any kind of agreement that would enhance global action on climate change.

"To settle for something that would be seen as diminished expectations and diminished implementation," he said, "would be in our view a very wrong message to emerge from this conference. We should therefore reaffirm categorically that our negotiations will continue on the basis of the Bali mandate."

Singh also emphasised and re-emphasised the importance of equity in any global climate deal, adding, "any new regime will have moral credibility and authority only if it acknowledges that every citizen of this globe has an equal entitlement to the global atmospheric space."

Like all the leaders who spoke before him, Singh described plans for voluntary domestic action on climate change. However, unlike President Obama, who suggested that "America has made our choice; we have charted our commitments," and that the rest of the world must follow, Prime Minister Singh said that India would be willing to consider additional actions as part of a fair global deal.

Given the enduring gulf between the expectations expressed by world leaders this morning, it would seem highly unlikely that a deal can be concluded in the coming hours.

However, it's not yet clear whether any of the political texts drafted earlier today could provide a high-level agreement that would satisfy all parties; or if not, how an alternative would now be developed.


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Copenhagen - December 18, 13:00
US unwilling to yield an inch
 
President Obama delivers a profoundly (but perhaps predictably) disappointing speech in Copenhagen
 
President Obama gave a long awaited speech to gathered delegates in Copenhagen moments ago... and said absolutely nothing new.

The only material difference between his comments and those made by Hillary Clinton yesterday was a highly unfortunate reference to countries' "common but differentiated responses", instead of "common but differentiated responsibilities".

If this wasn't indeed a slip of the tongue (and where President Obama is concerned, this seems unlikely), it would be an attempt to wipe any reference to historical responsibility off the face of a future climate deal.

Indeed, Obama essentially threatened that the framework laid out by Clinton, involving "decisive national actions" by all major economies (codespeak for a global pledge-and-review system), MRV provisions, and financing was the only possible way forward.

If the world doesn't accept this framework, he said, climate change negotiations will continue to result in conflict and disagreement for years to come.

President Obama also said, "America has made our choice, we have charted our commitments. We will do what we say." And that it was now time for the rest of the world to get together behind this common purpose.

Seriously? On the last day of the negotiations, the American line is either you're with us, or you're against us?

Meanwhile, news sources are reporting that President Obama's speech was delayed because he travelled directly from the airport to a hotel in Copenhagen where he held last minute negotiations with around twenty or thirty heads of state. No word on whether those discussions have yielded results.


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Copenhagen - December 18, 10:30
A possible Copenhagen deal emerges - Update I
 
Equitywatch has obtained excerpts of a recent version of the text currently being negotiated. It includes the following language:
 
On Shared Vision
Recognising the scientific view that increases in global temperature ought not to exceed two degrees and on the basis of equity and in the context of sustainable development, Parties commit to a vigorous response through immediate and enhanced national action on mitigation based on strong international cooperation. Ambitious action to mitigate climate change is needed with developed countries taking the lead.

On Annex I targets
Annex I Parties to the Convention commit to implementing, individually or jointly, the quantified economy-wide emission targets for 2020 as listed, yielding in aggregate, reductions of greenhouse gas emissions of X per cent in 2020 compared to 1990 levels and Y per cent in 2020 compared to 2005 levels

On Measuring, Reporting and Verification (MRV)
Mitigation actions taken by Non-Annex I Parties will undergo domestic auditing, supervision and assessment, the result of which will be reported through their national communications. Nationally appropriate Clarification may, upon request, be provided by the Party at its discretion to respond to any question regarding information in the national communications.


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Copenhagen - December 18, 8:30
A possible Copenhagen deal emerges
 
Draft text will be circulated later this morning; negotiations could continue until the 3 p.m. signing ceremony
 
Equitywatch has learned that a draft Copenhagen deal, to be presented to world leaders for their consideration later this morning, will propose extending negotiations on a legally-binding agreement until COP16 in 2010.

The draft includes a number of provisions that have already been advanced at these negotiations, notably: commitments to providing $10 billion in annual quick-start financing for LDCs from 2010-2012; and to working towards raising $100 billion in funding for developing countries by 2020, drawing on a variety of private and public and alternative sources, following yesterday's announcement by US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

The draft would also immediately recognise COP decisions on technical issues such as REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation), where texts are relatively close to being ready.

In addition:

There is as yet no agreed upon aggregate emissions reduction target for Annex I countries.

No long-term global targets, in terms of emissions or temperature increases, are expected

There appears to be compromise language on the monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) of actions undertaken by developing countries.

The draft envisions continued negotiations under both the AWG-LCA and AWG-KP. This may mean that a final decision on the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol (or its replacement by a new legal agreement) is deferred until COP16.


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Copenhagen - December 18, 6:00
From zero to agreement in nine hours?
 
Amidst floundering negotiations, Ministers and heads of state appear to be negotiating a draft agreement text face-to-face
 
The Bella Centre is an isolated venue, a virtual island located in a modern suburb of Copenhagen, surrounded by fences and roads on all four sides.

This morning, as world leaders including President Obama arrive for talks, lunch, and (probably) a signing ceremony for a Copenhagen climate deal at 3 p.m., the Centre and surrounding areas are under exceptionally tight security. All around, there's an enforced stillness.

Inside the Centre itself, however, there's chaos and confusion. As of now, it appears there's still no agreement and no completed draft for a document that would need to be signed in about nine hours. And, every time you ask someone the question, "what's going on?", you get a different answer.

From amidst the whirlwind of rumours, and from some first-hand observations, here's what Equitywatch has managed to gather as of 6 a.m:

Formal negotiations continue, sort of

Contact groups, convened earlier in the day to try to reach consensus on key elements of the AWG texts, have been pursuing their work late into the night. There seems to be progress on some issues, and negative progress on others (i.e. more and more brackets being introduced into the drafts).

Overall, there's a strong sense that these processes will not be able to complete their (Herculean) task today. And, in response to this realisation, negotiators seem to have been given widely divergent instructions by their respective governments: everything from remove brackets and compromise, to add brackets and stall.

Dinner with the Queen

In the meantime, since many heads of state have now arrived in Copenhagen, informal negotiations appear to be happening at multiple levels: among heads of state; among mixed groups of leaders and Ministers; among larger groups with political staff and negotiators; etc.

Last night, the Queen of Denmark hosted a dinner for leaders, where it seems they were shown "bullet points" from a possible Copenhagen agreement that had been under preparation by Denmark and other countries.

It's not clear whether this particular draft is still relevant; at any rate, it doesn't seem to have been circulated again.

The upstairs decision room

Later, in the wee hours of the morning, back at the Bella Centre, comical scenes were playing out as former COP Chair Connie Hedegaard would race down the corridor, followed by a group of delegates, only, in some cases, to turn around and walk the other way after a few moments.

In all this, the UN secretariat appeared to have been sidelined completely. It's also understood that Denmark, the host country, has now been "relieved" of its primary responsibilities to facilitate an agreement.

Instead, Presidents Brown, Sarkozy, Zuma and Lula, Senator Clinton, Minister Ramesh and other senior political figures are said to be meeting in an upstairs room, debating a possible draft text.

There's no clear word on how detailed this text would be, or whether it would resolve any of the negotiations' most contentious issues. However, some kind of draft is expected at around 8 or 9 a.m.


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Copenhagen - December 17, 13:00
The US makes its play
 
Hillary Clinton proposes a Copenhagen outcome that looks nothing like the AWG texts being negotiated by parties
 
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton just gave a press conference in which she announced that the US is seeking a Copenhagen deal with three elements:

(a) "Strong domestic actions operationalised by an international accord"

This is code-speak for a pledge-and-review system wherein every country sets voluntary targets and inscribes what their planned actions in an "agreement".

If it goes ahead, the Kyoto Protocol would be abandoned, the distinction between developed and developing countries would dissolve, and any hopes of setting global emissions targets based on scientific evidence would be extinguished.

(b) "Transparency" provisions covering commitments by all parties

This is code-speak for strong monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) rules for developing country actions.

Essentially, the US isn't ready to accept voluntary commitments from India, China and other emerging economies unless there is a formal review and reporting structure. Meanwhile, China and India point out that if an outside party is empowered to report on your commitments...they're not voluntary anymore.

In other words, strong MRV would also dissolve the distinction between rich and poor countries, and could effectively bind developing countries to targets.

(c) "Funding for the most vulnerable nations"

This would include $10 billion annually in so-called quick-start financing for LDCs from 2010 to 2012. It's about the only funding provision that has any numbers beside it at this stage in the negotiations; even then, only the EU and Japan has made a confirmed pledge to provide a portion of the funds. The US, so far, is declining to commit.

Sophistry with numbers, again

None of these demands are new, or unexpected. But today, there was a new twist in the language around funding.

Clinton said that the US would be "prepared to work towards a goal of mobilising $100 billion" in financing for developing countries, and especially "vulnerable" developing countries, by 2020.

This figure is probably going to find its way to the headlines (and is probably intended to gain the support of small island states and LDCs) but it's a mirage.

First, consider the language: "prepared to work towards a goal of mobilising". Really?

Clinton also said that the funds would come from a variety of sources, including private financing. But long-term financing is supposed to be based on public dollars, and is supposed to be predictable. What Clinton announced satisfies neither criterion.

Moreover, once again, there was no mention of a specific, concrete, definitive dollar commitment by the US government itself.

Parallel tracks?

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Rasmussen finally reconvened the COP and CMP plenaries to announce his decision on how to go forward with the AWG texts.

The solution he's offered is so simple, and so normal, given the way UN negotiations typically operate, that you have to ask the question, why did it take the Danish presidency so long to figure it out?

Both texts will be sent to Contact Groups, chaired by (former COP Chair) Connie Hedegaard. In turn, she will set up open-ended drafting groups, facilitated by "people we know and trust", to look at the major bracketed sections.

Work is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.

Or competing processes?

In summary: negotiators have about 30 hours to resolve differences on the AWG texts (having lost two days in consultations and other roadblocks). Meanwhile, the US has just announced that it's ready to sign an agreement that doesn't look anything like the AWG texts...

These two, apparently competing, drives towards a final Copenhagen outcome are now playing out in a tightly security-controlled Bella Centre amidst a gathering of dozens of heads of state, along with their respective retinues; over a hundred Ministers, thousands of negotiators and thousands of reporters; but just 300 observers and NGOs, due to strict access rationing by the UN and the Danish hosts.

In a briefing with press this morning, Minister Jairam Ramesh also referenced what may be a third drafting process, chaired by UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Equitywatch will continue to bring you the latest as the day unfolds.


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Copenhagen - December 17, 12:30
CMP from Bella Centre
 
Sudan demands fair process
 
Bella Centre, Thursday CMP: 12.30

G77 and China make it clear that they want the leaders to consider only those drafts, which have been negotiated by parties. This will be the democratic process. The COP President, Danish PM agrees. Sets up two working groups, for LCA and KP, both chaired by Connie to finalise drafts. G 77 and China say that work on KP must proceed first and if both groups are to meet simultaneously then we need two co-chairs. Danish PM says KP will start first. At 1 pm.

He adds the following (clearly to get his government off the hook and build pressure on who is responsible for failure)

a. We it as our role as presidency to build bridges to forge a deal and to put most sensitive issues on the table. We have pursued a strategy of transparency for urgent actions, remain deeply concerned and this is what the world expects and science demands.

b. Yesterday we announced two texts to build consensus. We found this was not possible. Now the conference at critical juncture. We will now rely on parties to take extra step to make deal. For the sake of citizens from across the world.

We have identified make or break issues. In the next 36 hours, most impressive decision making power will be joining us. They will be eager to provide impetus to this work.


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Copenhagen - December 16, 19:30
Things go North - Update I
 
Formal negotiations are once again on hold while discussions take place behind closed doors
 
The COP/CMP plenary in which Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen promised to address the concerns of China, India and other developing countries regarding a new, secret Danish text, has yet to be held.

In a press conference, Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, provided an official explanation: it's not possible for two major meetings, with full translation, to be held at the same time. And, priority must be given to the high-level meeting where heads of state and Ministers are currently giving speeches.

These speeches might not end until as late as 9 or 10 p.m. tonight. It's expected (but not certain) that the COP/CMP plenary will resume thereafter.

Mr de Boer also said it was now up to the Danish presidency to propose a transparent and efficient process for continuing negotiations, that would acknowledge the formally negotiated AWG-KP and AWG-LCA texts, as well as (presumably) the Danish text.

This seems like a tall order with just 48 hours left to go.

Meanwhile, there are rumours that the US convened a private meeting with selected Ministers this afternoon, no staff allowed.

No surprise
Separately, the US received today's top fossil of the day award for forcing the AWG-LCA text to include a bracketed option that would prevent setting an aggregate 2020 target for industrialised countries.

To options requiring Annex I emissions to be reduced by [25], [on the order of 30], and [49] per cent, the US added the option of [x] per cent, where x is the sum of voluntary pledges made by countries. Essentially, this language is meant to facilitate a pledge-and-review agreement.


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Copenhagen - December 16, 13:30
Things go North
 
After delegates spent the whole night negotiating draft texts, the Danish presidency casually mentioned it would be tabling alternatives later today
 
Wednesday has started off tumultously at the Bella Centre in Copenhagen.

Outside, there are demonstrations; registered observers are being refused admission without much explanation; and some metro stations are said to have been shut down.

Inside, the Danish COP Presidency dropped a (figurative) bomb by announcing, in passing, that it had prepared two draft texts for a "Copenhagen outcome", to be released later today.

Recall that the most difficult negotiations in Copenhagen have been around architectural texts that would structure the overall agreement and decide on key issues like targets, funding, accountability and the fate of the Kyoto Protocol.

In ad hoc working groups set up by the Bali Action Plan, the AWG-LCA and AWG-KP, negotiators have been trying to agree on two such architectural texts. Progress has been slow and every draft has generated controversy (see, for example, the previous post).

Alternatives to these negotiated texts have been advanced before. Early in the meeting, a Danish proposal for architectural texts, which would have eliminated the Kyoto Protocol, was leaked; rumours about a proposal put together by India, Brazil, China and South Africa were confirmed; the Alliance of Small Island States publicly released their own proposal on Saturday.

Still, all formal, transparent negotiations have so far focused on the AWG-KP and AWG-LCA drafts. In fact, negotiations on the AWG-LCA text continued all night and into the early hours of this morning.

Things took a turn when, at around 11:30, just before opening the high-level plenary where Ministers and heads of state from all over the world will make statements, COP President Connie Hedegaard ceded her chair's role to Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen. And just before she left the dais, she mentioned that the Danish COP presidency had prepared two draft texts for the Copenhagen outcome which would be passed out later in the day.

Surprise!
Brazil, China, India and a number of other G77 countries immediately raised objections. They asked why a new, hitherto secret, text was being parachuted in, when delegates had put in so much effort in negotiating the AWG texts through the night.

Prime Minister Rasumussen responded with a variety of what certainly seemed like excuses, such as the fact that there were two texts not one (implying that Denmark was at least not trying to kill the Kyoto Protocol with its latest proposal); and later, that no-one had actually seen the texts, so why were parties getting so upset? He also urged G77 countries not to block progress on "procedural matters", saying that the world expects a deal, and that time is running out.

Brazil, China, India and the others all emphasised that process and content are inseparable in UN negotiations, that transparency is a core principle, and that announcing new text at this stage of the game is unacceptable, especially when formal drafts already exist. (Evidently, it's also feared that the Danish chair will reflect a greater emphasis on interests of industrialised countries.)

After about half an hour of dispute, the issue was dropped, presumably pending discussion later this afternoon in a COP/CMP plenary. However, it's unlikely to be off the agenda for long. Many, including negotiators, are starting to feel at this COP that formal discussions are just for show, while selected heads of state are cooking up a deal behind the scenes. This morning's events are lending some weight to that narrative, as are the access restrictions for NGOs.

Two further notes:
(a) There are rumours that the Danish drafts were only mentioned this morning to preempt a leak; otherwise, they would have been kept secret until tomorrow.
(b) In an intervention, the Maldives sided with the Danish presidency, arguing that matters of process shouldn't delay the day's program. The position of other island nations is as yet unclear.


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Copenhagen - December 15, 20:30
Controversial LCA Text
 
May remove distinction between developed and developing countries
 
The revised draft is shorter by a page. But what is more important is that a key component of the earlier draft, that is dear to the developing world seems to have been ignored. Common but differentiated responsibility, a keystone of the Convention seems amiss in the body of the draft, although it does find a passing mention in its preamble. This means that the distinction between developed and developing countries has been removed in this draft and all nations will have same level of commitments; a huge departure from the framework convention, Kyoto protocol and the Bali Action Plan.

In para 1 the draft it says, “The shared vision for long term cooperative action, including a long-term global goal for emission reductions, shall guide and enhance the full, effective and sustained implementation of the Convention in order to achieve its objectives as set out in its Article 2.” This can be easily translated as every country, whether developed or developing taking on emission cuts, while ignoring historical responsibility of the industrialised countries.

In contrast the Bali action plan talks about common but differentiated responsibility, with due stress given to rich nations as the perpetrators of the climate fiasco because of their historical emissions. The new draft put all countries rich or poor on an even keel, to reduce emission, even if they were not responsible for what has already been emitted.

The negotiations are still on and unless the negotiators of the developing world, and more so India, catch on can turn this into a fiasco and get these dangerous paras removed or, at least bracketed, from the draft text.


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Copenhagen - December 15, 15:00
Under the microscope: Funding for NAMAs
 
Developing countries appear to have made a significant concession on funding for mitigation actions
 
Developing countries are expected to undertake NAMAs (Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions), according to the Bali Action Plan. NAMAs may be supported (i.e. paid for by developed countries), or unsupported (i.e. paid for domestically).

Draft text on the mechanism for registering and funding NAMAs was released today. Equitywatch brings you the following detailed analysis:
(a) Whether supported NAMA should be recorded in a registry as a part of the financial mechanism or should be a separate mechanism is still being debated (not clear on the position of different blocks).

(b) Whether autonomous NAMA should be part of this registry/ mechanism or not, is still under debate – developed countries want autonomous NAMA to be part of this registry/ mechanism.

(c) How developed countries will apply for the support for NAMA has not been worked out – whether they will do it voluntarily or a different mechanism is required is still not clear

(d) How will the support required and mitigation achieved for NAMA will be estimated is still not decided.

(e) What is however is clear that there will not be one source of funds for supported NAMA under UNFCCC which the developing countries were demanding. Under the current text, bilateral, regional and other multilateral sources of funding have also been agreed on. This means that there may be a financial and technology mechanism under UNFCCC which provides funds to NAMA, but certainly NAMA money will also come from bilateral, regional and other multilateral sources.

Conclusion: Developing countries have relaxed their position on funding for NAMA. From the previous position of demanding only one source of funding (a financial and technological mechanism under the UNFCCC), they have now agreed to take funds from bilateral, regional and other multilateral sources. This now opens the way for the World Bank type of organization.

Yesterday, US Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced a $350 million fund to promote renewable technology deployment in developing countries. In a press briefing, Minister Jairam Ramesh said India expects to receive about $50 million of the total. It's not clear whether projects under this fund will be registered as NAMAs; however, it represents a significant move towards setting up bilateral funding arragements.


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Copenhagen - December 14, 16:30
Copenhagen talks resumed
 
Talks now scheduled late into Monday night
 
Talks have resumed in Copenhagen after informal consultations were held to address concerns of developing countries.

Earlier in the day, the G77 and China, led by African members, had walked out of formal sessions; they said the Copenhagen negotiations were being structured so as to avoid discussion of Kyoto Protocol targets for Annex I countries.

Readers of Equitywatch will know that today's skirmish over Kyoto is hardly the first. Whether or not a renewed Kyoto Protocol will form a part of the Copenhagen agreement has emerged as a huge sticking point in these talks. Efforts by industrialised countries to bury Kyoto began in earnest in Bangkok, intensified in Barcelona, and have been building through bilateral meetings since.

Here in Copenhagen, it seems as though developed countries are completely unwilling to back off what they now see as an unprecedented - and perhaps final - chance to erase Kyoto for good.

Is there anything that could soften their stand in the next three-and-a-half days, before heads of state arrive Friday morning? It seems almost inconceivable, especially when there has been virtually no meaningful progress in the last nine days.

However, many Ministers have already arrived, and informal Ministerial talks are already happening at a feverish pace, in parallel with negotiations and text drafting.

Formal statements by Ministers begin Wednesday.


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Copenhagen - December 14, 13:30
Copenhagen talks in limbo
 
Formal negotiations appear suspended as the G77 and China announce a walkout
 
The Copenhagen talks are stalled after the G77 and China walked out of all negotiations late this morning. The move is an apparent protest against bad faith and intransigence on the part of industrialised countries who have yet to make any firm commitments for new emissions cuts.

Word of the walkout came while a Contact Group on setting targets for Kyoto countries was in session. Australia had been calling for a suspension of that meeting on the basis that further work was impossible without knowing the results of informal Ministerial discussions being conducted elsewhere. Developing countries had been resisting the move. However, after the walkout was announced, the Chair of the Contact Group immediately granted the request to suspend.

Because both disruptions are related, and because they happened at roughly the same time, there is considerable confusion among observers at the Bella Centre.

Some reports suggest that the G77 + China walkout was spearheaded by African countries.

Watch this space for further updates during the course of the afternoon.


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Copenhagen - December 12, 17:00
Halftime
 
After two large plenary meetings, informal Ministerial meetings take over
 
Two big plenaries today, at the halfway point in the Copenhagen climate talks, were a chance to, in the Chair's words, "take stock".

Countries nominally framed their statements in response to the AWG-KP (Download) and AWG-LCA (Download) draft texts, which outline one way of structuring an overall Copenhagen agreement. In reality, most were just seizing an opportunity to restate their positions and red lines at a critical juncture in the negotiations.

Here's what we learned:

Kyoto unequivocally in the crosshairs

Canada and Japan came right out and said it: they have no intention of joining a second phase of the Kyoto protocol; they want it eliminated and replaced with a new agreement that binds "most" of the world's countries to commitments. The US, the EU and Australia used more circumspect language, but essentially said the same thing.

Among developed countries, only Norway indicated that it's open to a two-track solution whereby: (a) countries that have Kyoto targets today take on new targets under the Protocol; and (b) the US and developing countries take on targets and actions under a new treaty.

Developing countries, including India, China, South Africa, Brazil, Kuwait, Venezuela, the Gambia, the Marshall Islands and many others emphatically rejected any agreement that doesn't include a continuation of the Kyoto Protocol. The Bolivian delegate was especially blunt, chiding industrialised countries for attempting to change the terms of the Bali Action Plan two years after they signed it, and just four days before leaders arrive to (perhaps) sign a deal.

Chicken and egg

The impasse is easy to understand. One set of negotiations is supposed to decide on the "big three" issues - targets, funding commitments, and enforcement measures - for developed countries minus the US; a different set of negotiations is supposed to do the same for the US and developing countries. In this context, everyone says they can't agree to anything in their negotiations without knowing the outcome of the other track.

However, for developed countries to take this position is entirely absurd. Parties under the Kyoto Protocol are legally required to set new targets irrespective of what any other countries are doing. Moreover, according to the principles of the Framework Convention on Climate Change, developed countries should be taking leadership in making commitments first, given their historical responsibility for causing climate change.

Principles, meet politics Be that as it may, politics is about to take over. Most delegates implied that the current rift could only be bridged by Ministers and heads of state, and looked forward to the Ministerial consultations which begin this afternoon: Connie Hedegaard will be hosting a carefully selected group of thirty to forty Ministers from countries considered key to the negotiations. These include the US, India, China, Canada, Australia, the EU, Brazil, Indonesia, Mali, Korea and others. They will meet from today until tomorrow evening.

Heads of state begin arriving by the middle of next week.


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Copenhagen - December 12, 14:00
Jairam Ramesh Press Conference
 
The Environment and Forests Minister spoke to the media in Copenhagen on Friday evening
 
Equitywatch brings you highlights of the press conference transcript:

On calls for a 1.5 degree limit
This not the first that this has been said. Earlier also some island nation states have said that 2 degrees is a too liberal a limit it should be 1.5 degrees. We have decided to to take a 2 degree global goal. But it has to be part of a equitable burden sharing formula, the details of which can be worked out. But we believe the most equitable burden sharing formula is per capita convergence of emissions.

On the question of measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) of mitigation actions
I have had a long discussion with Todd Stern. We are taking this issue forward. As you know there is basic agreement that all actions that are supported by international finance and technology will be subject to international MRV. The debate is on the unsupported actions. Our position is different from the US and the other developed countries but I am hopeful in the next few days we will be able to arrive at a consensus which will be able to satisfy everybody.

India does not suffer from lack of transparency. I think we have a surplus of it. There is a very strong feeling about any verification of unsupported action would be very intrusive. And many countries would like to maintain limits. Take United States for example. It does not allow international verification for biological weapons.

On the US stand that China and India should be exempted from adaptation money
India also has a lot vulnerable areas: Lakhadweep, Andmans, Sundarbans. So India is also a microcosm of regions which will badly hit by climate change where a major response would be adaption. So India is going to be a candidate for international finances. But when India becomes a candidate for international finances, others get dropped out. I am sympathetic to the idea that finance should be broad-based.

On AWG-KP and AWG-LCA drafts presented on December 11
We have not rejected the drafts that were submitted today. We have those two drafts. We have some serious concerns on those two drafts. For India, any draft with a peaking year is unacceptable. For India, a draft with a global goal [for emissions reductions] without equitable burden sharing is unacceptable.

On Himalayan glaciers
The general concensus view among the Indian scientific community is, most Himalayan glaciers are retreating; [but] some glaciers are advancing, some glaciers are retreating at a decelerating rate and the link between global warming and retreat of glaciers has not been conclusively established because there is also the problem of cyclical change. We need to measure monitor and model. But we do not need to wait for perfect science to protect livelihood of people who would be affected by these disappearing glaciers


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Copenhagen - December 11, 22:30
Four texts
 
Proposals for the overall architecture of a Copenhagen agreement will be discussed in plenary on Saturday
 
As the sun sets on Friday in Copenhagen, it seems that there are no less than four proposals for structuring a possible agreement that could be signed here.

Recall that the Bali Action Plan set out the essential ingredients of a Copenhagen deal, but it didn't specify what the legal architecture should be. This may seem to be an arcane question, but it actually has significant implications.

The reason is that a new protocol will be needed to commit the US to targets, and to prescribe actions for developing countries... which leaves open the question: what happens to countries that already have commitments under the Kyoto Protocol (i.e. all industrialised countries except for the US)? Do they join the new protocol, or continue to be bound by a second-phase of Kyoto?

Most industrialised countries would prefer to let the Kyoto Protocol die, and thus, take on post-2012 commitments in a new protocol. This way, principles in Kyoto that emphasise historical responsibility could be erased. As you'll gather by reading many of the previous posts, developing countries have been fighting hard to prevent this from happening.

1. The Danish draft
The Danish draft, leaked on Tuesday, appears to have been prepared behind closed doors by developed countries. It not only envisioned a single new protocol to replace Kyoto, but was also weak on targets: there were no proposed numbers for emissions cuts in 2020. Moreover, it opened the door to changing the base year for cuts from 1990 to 2005.

You can find a full analysis of the Danish draft here.

2. The AWG-KP and AWG-LCA drafts
Whereas the Danish draft was prepared informally, negotiators have also been working in formal sessions to develop an overall architecture for a possible Copenhagen agreement. These talks have been proceeding in two tracks, one under the Kyoto Protocol ("AWG-KP") and one under the Framework Convention on Climate Change ("AWG-LCA").

Draft text was made public this morning, and its most notable feature is that almost all the contentious issues remain in brackets, which means that they have yet to be decided. The AWG drafts do envision a continued Kyoto Protocol as well as a new agreement. However, the target for 2020 remains bracketed, as do notional targets for 2050.

3. The AOSIS draft
This morning, the Alliance of Small Island States released its own, informally negotiated proposal for an overall architecture. It too envisions a continued Kyoto Protocol as well as a new agreement, named the Copenhagen Protocol.

Notably, the AOSIS draft calls for temperature increases to be limited to 1.5 C, for global emissions to peak in 2015, and for global emissions to be cut by 85 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050. It also gives a very significant emphasis to adaptation needs - much more so than other proposals currently circulating - and asks that financing be handled under the UN.

4. The BASIC+Africa draft
India, Brazil, South Africa and China had earlier developed an informally negotiated proposal (the BASIC draft) for an overall architecture, which was quietly circulated to some parties and observers.

Today, India's environment Minister Jairam Ramesh announced that a new version of the BASIC draft, would be combined with an African proposal, and released tomorrow, Saturday.

What do all these different drafts mean?
These four drafts are all essentially competing proposals, each vying for the chance to become the final Copenhagen agreement... sort of. In reality, it's hard to tell which elements of the proposals are serious, and which are rhetorical flourishes, intended to influence negotiations a certain way.

We also don't know how the proposals will eventually be combined into a single agreement within a week. Will one be taken as the template? Or will negotiators and Ministers try to draft a new proposal, incorporating elements from all four?

For now, it's expected that the two public texts - the AOSIS draft and the AWG-KP/AWG-LCA pairing - will be presented Saturday in resumed plenary sessions, which the Chair has referred to as a mid-term "stock taking" of the negotiations.

It's also possible that a BASIC+Africa draft will be made public in time for consideration. And, there are rumours that a new Danish draft could also be tabled.


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Copenhagen - December 11, 17:30
News: China pushes back on adaptation finance
 
Rejects EU's $3 billion pledge as a paltry sum
 
Copenhagen is buzzing this Friday evening. Negotiators are busy working on, one one hand, the legal architecture and structure of a new deal (i.e. what happens to Kyoto? are targets binding? how is the US brought in? etc.); and on the other hand, detailed technical issues that could ultimately fit in to an overall framework.

In the second category, finance is a hot topic where not very much progress seems to have been made.

Since the beginning of the week, industrialised countries have been proposing $10 billion annually in so-called "fast track financing" for LDCs. Today, at its summit, the EU pledged to provide $3 billion of that total, a move that Nicolas Sarkozy said puts Europe "in a leadership role".

The Chinese delegation, however, appeared unconvinced. At a press conference, it tore apart the EU offer, arguing that it would have no substantial effect in poor countries trying to adapt to climate change.

A Chinese delegate clarified that, "China is not asking for any money," but would like to see adaptation offers from rich countries reflect “more sincerity” in their overall commitment to tackling the issue.

Most of the EU's $3 billion pledge is to be fulfilled by the UK and France. To date, smaller EU countries have largely refrained from pledging contributions, citing the economic recession and their own debt financing payments. Meanwhile, Annex I countries outside Europe including the US have yet to come up with any concrete pledges for the fund.

A yawning gap
Chinese delegates added that even the $10 billion figure mooted as a possible total commitment by Annex I countries is not enough, and criticised the focus on short term financing only, insisting that financing must extend to 2050. The EU pledge is so far only for three years.


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New Delhi - December 11, 21:00
Climate Finance - Update I
 
EU leaders agree on climate finance
 
EU leaders in Brussels have agreed to contribute € 7.2 billion ($10.6 billion) to a fast start climate fund to help developing countries adapt to climate change. Around 20% of the finance is intended for forest protection.

The figure, though higher than what EU leaders expected, is still much lower than what developing countries are demanding. Another concern being expressed is whether the finance will be new and additional or just existing aid budgets recycled into climate change money.

France and UK have suggested that in the medium term, "innovative financing mechanisms, such as the use of revenues from a global financial transactions tax" can be used to generate funds for helping developing nations deal with mitigation and adaptation.


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Copenhagen - December 11, 13:00
A new proposal from AOSIS
 
Alternative to the Danish Proposal and the BASIC draft
The Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) this morning released a new, overarching proposal for fulfilling the mandates of the Bali Action Plan, and setting legally binding targets for developed countries post-2012.

The draft sets out a pathway to (a) modify the Kyoto Protocol; (b) introduce a new Copenhagen Protocol; and (c) take immediate decisions on a few specific measures (such as so-called "fast start financing" for LDCs), in order to achieve its overall goals.

The proposal is distinct from the proposals by Tuvalu which were (re)tabled over the last few days under provisions in the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol that allow for amendments.

The AOSIS text, by contrast, suggests a way of answering the full requirements of the Bali Action Plan.

In this sense, it's a peer of - and an alternative to - the Danish Proposal that was leaked on Tuesday, and the so-called BASIC draft prepared by Brazil, South Africa, India and China.

Download the AOSIS proposal

NB: Equitywatch is working to bring you an analysis of the text and its political reprecussions. Check back for updates later this evening.


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New Delhi - December 11, 17:30
No Emerging Consensus on Climate Finance
 
Eu leaders meet in Brussels to discuss fast track funding for climate change
 
As the climate negotiations drama unfolds in Copenhagen, EU leaders met at a summit in Brussels with climate finance at the top of their agenda. EU leaders were seeking to come up with pledges of € 6.6 billion ($9 billion) over three years as “fast start money” for developing countries to deal with mitigation and adaptation. With only € 2 billion ($3 billion) on the table, the numbers do not add up as yet.

The EU and the Umbrella group have referred to an “emerging consensus” for $10 billion a year as “fast start money” for developing nations to spend on mitigation and adaptation till 2012. Ironically, the EU has not yet managed to agree on how much they are willing to contribute to this fund. While the UK, Sweden and Spain among others have put figures on the table, Germany and many Eastern European states have not. EU leaders had earlier agreed that their contributions to fast track funding would be voluntary.

Eastern European states are resisting putting money on the table due to the financial crisis. Southern negotiators like Lumumba have earlier referred to the ambition and the sense of urgency amongst world leaders in dealing with the financial crisis and have called for the same sort of effort for adaptation and mitigation funding for developing countries.

The “fast start money” being offered by industrialized nations is seen as being grossly inadequate by developing countries. The UNDP estimated that around $86 billion will be needed by 2015 for adaptation alone.


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Copenhagen - December 11, 10:00
Typical US
 
Anyone but US is the problem
 
Todd Stern has been roaring about financial assistance to NA1

He has made a thundering remark that China cannot expect to be the first candidate of the financial assistance flowing from A1 to NA1. In fact EU and US has also made some suggestion that all countries should be involved in public financing of climate change management except the LDCs. It is another matter that all these talks are about a meager sum of money that does not even exist. Years have passed talking about financial transfer between rich countries to the developing, while rich countries are about to declare themselves bankrupt. An old trick in dirty business!

The real issue is that all these thundering talks are nothing but an attempt to make a glorious retreat from Kyoto Protocol. Speaking in a press conference, Chinese senior negotiator, ambassador Yu Qingtai said that financing the developing nations should not be seen as a philanthropic act of rich countries. He pointed out that historical responsibility of the rich nations was internationally established, and any deviation amounted to breach of an international agreement that accepted ‘common but differentiated’ principle in managing climate change. It was clear that the Chinese team was not willing to move an inch from Bali Road Map, at least in public.

China, in fact, ridiculed Mr Stern’s remark on financial assistance to China as ‘question does not arise’. Mr Qingtai stressed that China never lobbied for money to be transferred to them, but talked about it on behalf of developing nations, as it is an important component in the discussion. He mentioned that some parties “may not be in Kyoto Protocol, but they are in UNFCCC process. Almost a decade has passed and hardly anything happened”

“They should not always focus about what the developing countries should do, they need to fulfill their commitment”, he said. On the other hand, he demanded an apology from the rich nations for not honouring their commitments.

Separately, US team has clearly said that they were not going to commit any long-term financial assistance. The debate on institution to manage climate funding goes on. Developing nations demand public financing to ensure reliability and that it be managed by a body fully answerable to the CoP under the UNFCCC. Developed countries keep insisting on bulk funding coming from markets and be managed through existing institutions i.e., GEF and World Bank.


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Copenhagen - December 10, 21:30
Under the microscope: LULUCF
 
Several Annex I countries are lobbying for shoddy accounting practices that would weaken their overall emissions targets
 
Thursday's big story was undoubtedly the breakdown of the CMP, or Kyoto Protocol, plenary.

But in addition to the drama in formal negotiating sessions, there's plenty going on behind the scenes as small groups of delegates prepare draft text for specific elements, or chapters, of the Bali Action Plan: on topics like technology transfer, forestry, funding, etc. Equitywatch will bring you analysis on the good and bad in these proposals, as details emerge.

Today, a look at new text on LULUCF, or Land Use, Land Use Change, and Forestry.

Playing with numbers
LULUCF has always been a tricky issue. Whereas greenhouse gas emissions from energy-related sources (like power plants or vehicles) are relatively easy to calculate, it's hard to accurately estimate emissions related to land use. The result you get can be heavily influenced by the methodologies you choose; hence, whenever it comes time to negotiating LULUCF provisions, there's always a fight over methodologies.

At a press conference, the Climate Action Network (a coalition of non-governmental organisations), shed light on one dodgy methodology that several industrialised countries are endeavouring to put in the LULUCF text.

Here's the issue: when forests are cut down, some of the carbon they contain is released to the atmosphere. If you avoid deforestation, you reduce overall emissions. But what exactly does it mean to avoid deforestation? And how do you quantify it?

One option is to ask countries to predict how much forest they expect to cut down, say in 2020. Then, in 2020, if you find that fewer forests have been cut than what was predicted, voilà: avoided deforestation! Right?

Not so fast. This kind of system is wide open to gaming. If a country, like Sweden or Japan or New Zealand (and these aren't arbitrary choices), says it's going to cut down lots of forests between now and 2020, and especially if that number is suspiciously higher than what it's cut down in the last few years, you have to wonder: what's going on?

Either it's ramping up deforestation, which is bad for the climate, and shouldn't go unpenalised; or, it's lying about how much forest it plans to cut down so that later, it can claim credit for "avoiding deforestation"...that wasn't really going to happen anyway.

The Climate Action Network says that this loophole, known as "projecting reference levels" for future emissions, could weaken Kyoto Parties' aggregate emissions targets by 3 to 5 per cent. To avoid this weakening of targets, they say that future estimates of deforestation should not be allowed to deviate significantly from historical data.

When the LULUCF text becomes public, later this week or next, we'll see whether or not sense has ultimately prevailed.


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Copenhagen - December 10, 19:30
Another bold move by Tuvalu - Update II
 
G77 negotiators explain their concerns
 
As discussed in the previous post, Tuvalu's proposal (a) for amending the Kyoto Protocol essentially creates a new Annex, called Annex BI ("B-one"), in which non-industrialised countries could commit to emissions reduction targets.

(Recall that currently, industrialised or so-called Annex I countries, have targets in Annex A of the Kyoto Protocol. And yes, it's a lot of annexes.)

A number of G77 negotiators confirmed to Equitywatch that their primary concern with Tuvalu's proposal is precisely that it doesn't specify which countries should be included in Annex BI. In other words, the proposal could be asking all countries to take on targets...or not; it's simply not clear.

Instead, these negotiators say they would prefer to focus discussions on the "G37" proposal to amend Annex I targets only. They say that the most important outcome at Copenhagen is ambitious targets for developed countries; nothing else can be decided until this piece of the puzzle is in place. Thus, they argue, formal negotiation opportunities in Copenhagen should be dedicated to putting pressure on industrialised countries to set targets, rather than being dispersed among several issues.

The negotiators also say they expect the disagreement over Tuvalu's proposal can (and will) be resolved through ongoing informal negotiations. Still no word on how long it's likely to take.


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Copenhagen - December 10, 16:00
Another bold move by Tuvalu - Update I
 
Discussions remain suspended
 
As we await news on the status of the Kyoto Protocol plenary (see previous post), Equitywatch offers a more indepth analysis of what's going on.

Corrections
First, a brief clarification: unlike the UNFCCC plenary yesterday, the Kyoto Protocol plenary has not been suspended as whole: rather, discussion on the agenda item concerning amendments to the protocol has been suspended; the meeting itself has been adjourned. (The net result is, however, similar: formal talks are stalled.)

Second, while the G77 and China, and the Association Of Small Island States (AOSIS) both spoke in favour of setting up formal discussions on amendments, it appears that each had different amendments in mind. Confusion about who wanted what is likely one of the reasons why talks were adjourned.

Analysis of the amendments being proposed
In all, twelve proposals for amendments to the Kyoto Protocol were on the agenda (having been submitted to the Kyoto Protocol secretariat at least six months in advance). The following five may have been especially pertinent to this morning's breakdown in talks:

1. Tuvalu (a)
A first proposal by Tuvalu essentially asks to amend the Kyoto Protocol such that non-Annex I parties (i.e. developing nations) could, if they so chose, take on quantified emissions reduction targets. As it stands, the Protocol requires industrialised country parties to set targets, but doesn't create any legal space for other countries to do so.

This is clearly a controversial proposal; whereas it may be intended to apply to countries like South Korea and Saudi Arabia - i.e. countries that could easily be considered "industrialised", even though they are not part of the Annex I list - it would appear to make the firewall between Annex I and non-Annex I a little less absolute.

2. Tuvalu (b)
A second proposal by Tuvalu asks to establish diplomatic immunity for individuals serving in institutions established under the Kyoto Protocol.

3. The "G37"
A proposal by thirty-seven developing countries (including a couple of African members of AOSIS) aims to force Annex I countries to make aggregate emissions reduction of 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020. A table in the amendment draft specifically assigns emissions targets, country-by-country, on the basis of "historical responsibility" for emissions between 1850 and 2005.

The clause specifying a 40 per cent target seeks to replace existing language in the Kyoto Protocol which merely sets out a process for establishing targets for the second Kyoto commitment period.

The thirty-seven countries who proposed the amendment in June are: Algeria, Benin, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, China, Congo (Republic of), Democratic Republic of Congo, El Salvador, Gambia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritius, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Pakistan, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Togo, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

4. Bolivia, Venezuela, Paraguay, Malaysia
A proposal by these four countries aims to introduce the notion of a "climate debt" to the Kyoto Protocol. It seeks to calculate two numbers for every Annex I country: first, how deeply they should cut emissions, on the basis of historical responsibility and in order to leave enough atmospheric space for other countries to develop; second, how deeply they can cut emissions. It would then require industrialised countries to reduce emissions as much as they can at home, and provide some kind of financial transfers to account for the remainder of what they should be cutting.

The proposal suggests, as a draft number, that Annex I countries can cut emissions by 49 per cent during the period 2013 to 2017, which is much more ambitious than the G37 proposal.

5. Australia Australia's proposal seeks to "amend" the Kyoto Protocol by erasing it, and rewriting it from scratch so that it becomes a pledge-and-review system with national schedules whereby countries set their own targets.

Australia has tried to forward this idea in several other fora: it proposed an entirely new Protocol under the UNFCCC along exactly the same lines (which was part of yesterday's controversy over continued discussions), and it helped Denmark write the draft agreement text that was leaked on Tuesday.

The politics of it all
At this stage, it appears that India, China, and other backers of the G37 proposal are keen on its being formally discussed in a Contact Group, but are opposed to considering other proposals, given their broader scope. Their argument is that proposals like Tuvalu's (a) could lead to changes in who takes action under Kyoto; by contrast, the G37 proposal only seeks to specify targets, while leaving other parts of the Protocol unchanged.

So far, there's still no word on how the impasse will be resolved, and when talks will resume.


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Copenhagen - December 10, 12:45
Another bold move by Tuvalu
 
On Thursday morning, more drama on the floor, this time at the Plenary of the Kyoto Protocol.
 
In the back rooms and in the corridors at Copenhagen, negotiations are continuing in earnest on a raft of technical issues that could be part of an eventual Copenhagen treaty: technology transfer; adaptation funding; accounting rules for emissions from deforestation. Small groups of delegates are preparing draft texts on each of these topics, which will be released publicly later in the week.

In the meantime, just about the only discussions being held in public view are those relating to symbolic or high-level issues...and these almost inevitably lead to one of the million-dollar questions at this COP: what happens to the Kyoto Protocol after 2012?

On one side, developing countries are adamant that the Kyoto Protocol must be maintained and strengthened. As the delegate from Nicaragua reminded everyone today, it remains the only legally-binding instrument that requires emissions cuts from countries that are historically responsible for global warming.

On the other side, developed countries have been using a wide variety of means to kill Kyoto and replace it with a new agreement.

First, a recap of what happened yesterday
Yesterday, in the UNFCCC plenary, five proposals to add new protocols under the UNFCCC were on the agenda. Two, one from Tuvalu and one from Costa Rica, aim to (a) strengthen the Kyoto Protocol with stronger targets and (b) add new legally-binding targets for the US and actions for developing countries. Both are short on details, but the Tuvalu proposal, for instance, sets a goal of limiting temperature rises to 1.5 C, which is more ambitious than any other official texts to date.

But several countries, including India and China, objected to further discussion of the Tuvalu and Costa Rica drafts. In part, it seems this was because of a fear that these discussions would distract from negotiations under the Bali Road Map, which are intended to lead to the same outcomes: stronger targets for Annex I countries and some kind of actions for developing countries. In part, it was because other proposals for new protocols under the UNFCCC, such as from Australia and the US, have the obvious goal of replacing the Kyoto Protocol with something weaker.

(It might also have been because some India and China were caught off guard).

The Chair had yet to propose a way forward from this impasse, when this morning, in the Kyoto Protocol plenary, a very similar scenario starting playing out.

Déjà vu, almost
Article 20 of Kyoto allows for amendments to be discussed at any COP (just as Article 17 under the UNFCCC allows for new protocols to be proposed at any COP).

And, as they had under Article 17 of the UNFCCC, Tuvalu and other developing countries submitted proposals for consideration that would strengthen Kyoto. A proposal from some of the larger G77 countries in fact calls for minimum targets of 40 per cent for all Annex I countries in the next commitment period.

Similarly, Australia and other developed countries have submitted proposals to replace the Kyoto Protocol with much weaker arrangements, such as a pledge-and-review agreement.

Thus, a bit of déjà vu with the question: to discuss these proposals (including options for both strengthening and weakening Kyoto), or not to discuss?

You might think that everyone would have responded exactly as they had yesterday, but just a few moments ago, developing countries universally spoke in favour of setting up further discussions on those proposals which seek to strengthen Kyoto, but not on the others. The EU expressed disagreement.

The Chair of the meeting, Connie Hedegaard, is now consulting with delegates on how to proceed.

Update: after about twenty minutes of discussions, the issue has not been resolved and Ms Hedegaard has suspended the plenary. This means that the plenary sessions of both the Kyoto Protocol and the UNFCCC are suspended, until parties can agree on a way to go forward.


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Delhi - December 10, 2009
Analysis of the Danish Proposal
 
Equitywatch dissects a leaked proposal to replace the Kyoto Protocol
 
On Tuesday, the Guardian newspaper leaked a version of a draft agreement for Copenhagen, allegedly being prepared by host country Denmark in consultation with other developed countries. The so-called "Danish proposal" would commit countries to very little other than continued negotiations, and would drop most of the key principles of the Kyoto Protocol.

Read an Equitywatch analysis of the leaked draft here.

See the Guardian's leaked copy here.


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Copenhagen - December 9, 15:00
Small island states make a stand
 
COP plenary suspended
This morning, heated debate ensued when Tuvalu asked the Chair of the COP to green light discussions on its proposal for a new protocol under the UNFCCC. Over an hour later, the parties couldn't reach consensus, and the COP was suspended.

What does it all mean?
Understanding Tuvalu's proposal In Bali, all countries agreed to negotiate on two tracks: one to set additional targets for Annex I countries under the Kyoto protocol (i.e. the industrialised countries minus the US); and a second to set targets for the US and establish nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs) for developing countries. Negotiations under both tracks are underway at Copenhagen.

But the UNFCCC has a clause, Article 17, that allows any party to propose a new protocol at a COP, so long as they submit a draft six months earlier. This is precisely what five countries elected to do in June: Tuvalu, Japan, Costa Rica, the U.S. and Australia.

Such a protocol could be about anything. It could, like Kyoto, be about setting targets for emissions cuts; or it could take on other issues. But to date, countries have preferred to use the Bali Road Map, rather than Article 17, as the primary basis for negotiating a climate agreement for 2013 and beyond.

Reaction on the plenary floor
This morning, Tuvalu asked the COP chair to set up a contact group - a working session, open to observers - to consider its June draft.

Then, one by one, small islands states spoke to endorse the move: Grenada, the Cook Islands, Jamaica, the Solomon Islands, the Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Barbados, Fiji, Palau, Cape Verde, Samoa; many African LDCs also joined: Sierra Leone, Senegal, Rwanda, Togo, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger.

Other developing countries: India, followed by China, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Algeria and others opposed the islands states. They essentially argued that further consideration of Tuvalu's text would distract from (if not undermine) efforts to preserve the Kyoto Protocol under the Bali Road Map.

At first, the COP Chair, Danish Minister Connie Hedegaard, granted Tuvalu's request. As more countries spoke to oppose the idea, she reconsidered, and said that informal (read: closed door) negotiations would be held to evaluate the proposal. Tuvalu and other islands states objected strongly, leading to a stand-off. After well over an hour, the session was suspended. It will resume at 3 p.m. Copenhagen time.

What comes next? Often, in COP sessions, disagreement over small matters of procedure serves a proxy for more significant differences of opinion. That's probably the case here, though the roots of the rift are not entirely clear.

The Tuvalu proposal does not appear to imply scrapping the Kyoto Protocol, as many of the larger developing countries alleged in voicing their opposition. On the other hand, with only a few days of negotiations before Ministers begin to arrive, there's no question that time is scarce: if discussions are launched on the Tuvalu proposal, they could take some of the focus away from Bali Road Map processes.

When the COP plenary resumes in just a few minutes, we'll know more. Check back later today for the latest.


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Copenhagen - December 8, 20:00
The Danish Proposal Surfaces
 
A secret negotiating text is leaked to the media, and the day goes from dull to anything but.
 
Today's late-breaking headline news at COP-15 is the leak of the so-called "Danish Proposal", which has been circulating behind closed doors over the last few weeks.

It's essentially a draft text for a new agreement that could come out of Copenhagen.

Why is it such a big deal? First, because draft texts are the actual field on which negotiations play out. As they talk, countries modify a proposed text: they start with brackets around contentious words (which indicate a lack of consensus); search for alternatives; and engage in horse-trading (I'll accept this clause you like if you stop opposing this other one that's important to me). When there are no more brackets left, you have an agreement.

Thus, an entirely new text, written from scratch, also reframes the negotiations from scratch. And, were the Danish text to be tabled in Copenhagen, this is precisely what it would do. But that's not what happened today; instead the draft was leaked to the press before Denmark or another country had the chance to table it officially.

For now, there's a lot we don't know about the leak. Is this draft a recent version of the Danish Proposal (which has been constantly evolving for several weeks) or an older one? Who leaked it? When were the Danes (or another delegation) planning to table it?

It's also not yet clear what the fall-out will be. For example, there's no comment yet from the G77 and China; a press conference is supposed to happen tonight, but journalists are still waiting for officials to show up.

In the meantime, Equitywatch brings you a first analysis of what kind of new climate regime the Danish Proposal would create.

The big red flags
1. There's been a lot of talk that Annex I countries would like a political agreement rather than a legally-binding one.

The draft Danish text would establish a "political agreement" at Copenhagen "with a view to agreeing on a comprehensive legal framework under the Convention no later than COPXX". In other words, a legally binding agreement would have to wait for a future COP, such as next year's meeting in Mexico City.

The question of whether or not developing countries take on legally-binding targets would also have to wait. The Danish text, which is just a "political agreement" says that countries will "commit to targets for 2020", but the deal would be far from sealed.

2. The draft jettisons the principle that industrialised countries are responsible for the lion's share of climate change to date, while all developing countries, regardless of their current size, have generated minimal emissions in the past.

Instead, the new draft replaces two categories with three: developed countries, developing countries (like India, Brazil or Malaysia) and least-developing countries. Developed countries have greater economic "capability".

The rest of the Danish Proposal picks up on this distinction by having different mitigation, adaptation and financing provisions for three categories of nations.

This is of course problematic because it dilutes the notion of historical responsibility and, perversely, rewards industrialised countries for inaction (i.e. delaying their own actions until developing countries' economies grew stronger).

But the text also goes further. It says:
"The developing country parties [shall]...contribute to nationally appropriate mitigation actions...[which] could in aggregate yield a Y percent deviation below business as usual in 2020".

Could this open the door to binding commitments for developing countries?
3. Further, as had been widely reported, the Danish text proposes to define years in which emissions should peak.

To date, developing countries have been trenchantly opposed to any notion of limiting their development through defined "peaking years".

The Danish text calls for this directly: it says there should be a global peaking of emissions no later than 2020, that "developed countries collectively have peaked and that the timeframe for peaking will be longer in developing countries."

But "longer" is a loose term, and the space available to developing countries will depend entirely on how fast developed countries start cutting emissions after they peak, an issue that the draft doesn't consider.

And there's more
The leaked draft calls for several other potentially problematic measures: setting targets on deforestation in developing countries; international guidelines for monitoring, reporting and verification of voluntary domestic measures in developing countries; and a contract and convergence approach to per capita emissions, rather than equal entitlements.

Update: the Danish government has just issued a press release denying that the Danish Proposal exists.


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Copenhagen - December 8, 1900
Username: Equity; Password: *********
 
Its only compromises
 
I thought of staying away from climate change completely. I thought any sort of engagement with climate change negotiation was nothing but lending my support to a corrupt process. But a few incidents at home just before the ‘epic’ meeting at Copenhagen forced me to say something. I thought of making the password public. USERNAME: equity PASSWORD: compromise

For a long time, India, as a leader of G77+China has screamed hoarse about equity in climate deal. It always sounded strange, as the country within its national boundary has nothing to do with such principle, apart from mentions in the constitution, election manifesto of all political parties and in sundry speeches. My friends in the North [and in the South with Northern sensibilities] have always ridiculed me about India’s ‘equity’ position. It was just posturing, they said. I always maintained that if it was posturing, it was against posturing of the North. Also, we have always maintained that inequity within the national boundary was to be settled within the country, there was no need to go to United Nations to solve India’s problem with income distribution.

But equity was to be settled between nations in an international negotiation.

It is obviously clear like the melting polar ice that equity was just posturing, nationally, as well as internationally. How can we suddenly have equity in atmospheric distribution while we have no sense of equity in distribution of water, land, forest, food or sanitation? After all, climate change is not ‘another’ problem. It is a mere aggregate of all the wrong things we have done in the last hundred years. Logically, if we can solve unjust distribution in all other sectors, atmosphere will be cleaner anyway.

A lot of us also hoped against hope that the climate discussion may bring back the logic of equity and justice in the world order. But no such thing happened in the last 15 years, and if things at Copenhagen are going ‘well’ between nation states, equity and justice are way off the radar.

Nationally, at last, we have dropped our posturing. We are now told that ‘per capita’ principle of atmospheric share; the backbone of equity is not a tenable one in international negotiation. Who decided that? Obviously, the rich nations do not like the ‘per capita’ capita argument, as it requires them to give up a large amount of the atmosphere they have grabbed. But why should we give up the argument if we seriously believe in it? The truth is that our national political economy is no different from the ones of climate criminals. And we compromised.

And it is so easy to make us compromise! All it takes is a few editorials in ‘civilised’ publications from ‘civilised’ world branding us naysayers. There are many in the country who want to be seen as ‘civilised’ by the climate criminals. Some of them are also compradors. And there are also good guys who believe in the ‘values’ of the climate criminals. [It is funny that communists were called dogmatic]

Moving away from the ‘per capita’ principle has a major ramification. It simply means a status quo on world order. It clearly means that there will be no transfer of atmospheric space between rich and poor countries. Period. And one thing leads to another.

While moving away from the equity principle, India blinked too. The longstanding demand of G77+China for the industrialised country to commit deep domestic emission cuts before the developing ones to commit substantial reduction has gone out of the window. ‘Civilised’ world broke their Kyoto promises miserably, and got us to make some commitments. India’s commitment of reducing emission intensity can be a great leap forward, our prime minister and environment minister may be termed as blue-eyed boys by the ‘civilised’ world.

But will that act bring what the world needs from the rich world? The US promise of 4% emission reduction of the 1990 levels by 2020, and 30% by EU is nowhere near what the science wants. Remember, a large part of this miniscule reduction will be actually achieved by carbon trading! So, atmosphere grabbing will continue.

Reduction of emission intensity within the country, without any technological or financial help can also put pressure on energy use. And we should not fool ourselves. Rich people within the country will not give up any energy access for the poor to light even a CFL bulb. There will be no transfer of energy access from rich to poor, there will be no transfer of atmospheric space from rich to poor. In fact, poor will be expected to pay for rich man’s space. This means wider gap between the rich and poor within the country.

There is a compromise internationally. There is a compromise within the country too. I hope I’m proved wrong by 18th of this month. Pradip Saha CSE


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Copenhagen, 21:30
Reading tea leaves
 
As the Copenhagen talks launch, Equitywatch looks at the early signs of where things might be headed
 
The first day at the climate negotiations is superficially ceremonial: delegates gather in large plenary sessions, remind each other of the urgency of the issue, thank the host country, exhort one another to work tirelessly to reach agreement, and then, bloc-by-bloc, restate their positions for the record.

Of course, there's always much more going on under the surface. This is particularly so in Copenhagen, given the high political stakes: it was announced today that more than 110 heads of state (which is more than half the global pantheon) intend to show up on December 18; it's certain to be a moment of high drama.

And that makes momentum a magic word.
Take one example: on December 4, the day after Jairam Ramesh announced that India would - voluntarily - set emissions intensity targets for itself, and just three days before today's launch of negotiations, the White House issued a press statement heralding the birth of an "emerging consensus" on the outlines of a climate deal.

Was it an understated announcement of a fait accompli, an agreement among the so-called major emitters forged through bilateral meetings in October in November: Jairam Ramesh in Beijing; Manmohan Singh in Washington; the EU president in Delhi? Or was it just an attempt to create pre-Copenhagen momentum for a consensus by declaring that one exists?

In the ceremonial opening plenaries, as an observer, sometimes all you can do to gain insight into where things are heading is to play "spot the difference": in the tableau of a five-minute speech, by say, Australia on behalf of the so-called Umbrella group (whereby the major industrialised countries outside of Europe, i.e. the US, Russia, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, and a few others, speak with a united voice), what elements are different from the last time an Umbrella group member spoke? Have certain ideas, certain terms, or even certain adjectives, been dropped? On the flip side, what's new?

Today, at least two subtle changes were of note:
First, the Umbrella group and the EU both referred to an "emerging consensus" around "fast start money": about 10 billion dollars in funding for developing countries to spend every year on mitigation and adaptation (an idea also cited in the White House statement). Everyone knows it's not enough. The UNDP, for example, estimates that 86 billion dollars will be needed every year by 2015 for adaptation alone. But the implicit (and newly popular) argument is that an inadequate amount of money mobilised immediately might be a comprise that gets traction. Even Grenada, on behalf of the small island states, acknowledged the proposal, saying that "fast start money" is important. Could it be the beginnings of a deal on finance?

Second, on the critical question of the nature of the agreement in Copenhagen - will it be political or legally binding? - wording chosen by the Umbrella group and the EU lent itself to notice. In describing their respective visions, both delegations used the same term, a "legally binding agreement", but didn't mention "legally binding targets". Semantics? Perhaps, but this wording explicitly leaves space for a deal whereby countries' legal requirements start and stop at voluntary actions. In other words, pledge-and-review.

And the biggest question hanging over the early days Copenhagen is precisely this: is the momentum tending towards an agreement by all the world's largest emitters to settle for pledge-and-review, which would almost certainly doom the planet to temperature increases of more than 2 degrees Celsius? Or, is there a chance the momentum might head the other way, towards a stand-off between industrialised countries, who don't want to make deep cuts, and developing countries, who won't accept anything less?

As far as India is concerned, we've recently seen Minister Ramesh and the Prime Minister playing both sides: today insisting that India will never accept a deal without binding emissions cuts for developed countries; tomorrow extolling the many virtues of voluntary action. But India has yet to make an intervention in Copenhagen; the chips could as yet land either way.

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CoP19
CoP19/Warsaw
CoP18
Doha, Qatar
CoP9
Milan, Italy
CoP17
Durban, South Africa
CoP8
New Delhi, India
CoP16
Cancun, Mexico
CoP7
Marrakech, Morocco
CoP15
Copenhagen, Denmark
CoP6
The Hague, Netherlands
CoP14
Bonn/Poznan
CoP5
CoP5 Bonn, Germany
CoP13
Bali, Indonesia
CoP4
Buenos Aires, Argentina
CoP12
Nairobi, Kenya
CoP3
Kyoto, Japan
CoP11
Montreal, Canada CMP 1
CoP2
Geneva, Switzerland
CoP10
Buenos Aires, Argentina
CoP1
Berlin, Germany
 

Uthra Radhakrishnan
Email: uthra@cseindia.org
Tel: +91 11 29955124