The Copenhagen Climate Change Conference opened on Monday morning with a welcoming ceremony. This was followed by the opening plenaries of COP 15, COP/MOP 5, AWG-LCA 8 and AWG-KP 10.
Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark, said this conference was taking place at a time of unprecedented political will, and urged parties to reach an ambitious agreement in order to deliver “hope for a better future.”
Ritt Bjerregård, Mayor of Copenhagen, highlighted the Copenhagen Climate Summit for Mayors taking place from 14-17 December and indicated that Copenhagen aimed to be carbon neutral by 2025. She said COP 15 needed to “go very far, very fast” and called on delegates to turn Copenhagen into “Hopenhagen” and to “seal the deal.”
Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), highlighted the consequences of failure to implement climate change mitigation policies on the basis of the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4). He emphasized that for temperature increase to be limited to between 2.0-2.4°C, global emissions must peak no later than 2015. Pointing to a recent incident involving the theft of e-mails from scientists at the University of East Anglia in the UK, Pachauri highlighted the IPCC’s record of transparent and objective assessment.
UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer said Copenhagen should result in: an agreement on implementation of mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology, reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD) and capacity building actions; ambitious emission reductions commitments and “start-up finance” of around US$10 billion per year; and a shared vision on long-term cooperative action. He emphasized that Copenhagen would be successful only if it delivered significant and immediate action beginning the day the conference concludes.
COP 14 President Maciej Nowicki (Poland) opened COP 15, stressing its critical role in addressing climate change. Parties elected Connie Hedegaard, Minister for the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen 2009, Denmark, as COP 15 President.
COP President Hedegaard stated that the political will to address climate change has never been stronger and said “if we miss this chance, it may take years to get the next one.” She emphasized the need for progress during the first week, highlighting that leaders are expecting to adopt a global agreement in 11 days. She called for a comprehensive agreement delivering on all building blocks and launching immediate action. Finally, she urged parties to “mark this meeting in history” and “get it done.”
ORGANIZATIONAL MATTERS: On the rules of procedure, COP President Hedegaard recalled the practice since COP 1 of applying the draft rules of procedure, with the exception of draft rule 42 on voting. PAPUA NEW GUINEA opposed this proposal, stating that agreement by consensus based on “the lowest common denominator” is “gravely negligent” given the seriousness of climate change impacts. He supported taking decisions by a majority of two thirds of parties present and voting. COP President Hedegaard said she would consult on the issue. BRAZIL, SAUDI ARABIA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO and LESOTHO supported this, stressing the need to start working promptly.
Parties then adopted the agenda (FCCC/CP/2009/1 and Add.1). On the election of officers other than the President, COP President Hedegaard said nominations by regional groups have not been completed and invited COP Vice-President Eric Mugurusi (Tanzania) to continue consultations. She said current members would serve until the new Bureau is finalized.
Delegates agreed to admit the proposed organizations as observers (FCCC/CP/2009/8/Rev.1). COP President Hedegaard noted recent Convention ratifications by Iraq and Somalia, indicating that this brings the total number of parties to 194 and makes the UNFCCC “a truly universal agreement.”
OPENING STATEMENTS: Sudan, for the G-77/CHINA, encouraged parties to observe the principles of good faith, transparency, inclusivity and openness, as well as an absolute commitment to the process. He emphasized the need for the agreed outcome under the AWG-LCA to ensure full implementation of developed country commitments under the Convention and rejected attempts to merge developed country commitments under the Protocol with similar actions for developing countries.
Algeria, for the AFRICAN GROUP, expressed serious concerns with the lack of progress in this process and reminded parties that Africans are already impacted by climate change, through increased droughts, health hazards, food scarcity and migration. He firmly opposed renegotiating the UNFCCC and requested a transparent and equitable high-level segment, stressing that the process must not be selective in the nature of its consultations.
SAUDI ARABIA supported the adoption of a just and comprehensive agreement, which should comply with the principles and the text of the Convention and Bali Action Plan (BAP). He said his delegation would not accept accelerating progress on some issues and postponing action on others. He also proposed an independent and international investigation of “a recent scientific scandal” known as “climate gate,” and noted economic losses from climate change for many countries, including those that rely on the export of fossil fuels.
Lesotho, for the LEAST DEVELOPED COUNTRIES (LDCs), urged countries not to betray “the expectations of the anxious global population,” and supported bottom-up and inclusive procedures and the continuation of a two-track process. He highlighted the importance of adaptation, financing, technology and capacity building support, and underlined the need for contributions to the LDC Fund to finance countries’ most immediate adaptation needs.
Grenada, speaking for the ALLIANCE OF SMALL ISLAND STATES (AOSIS), urged an ambitious outcome that addresses the true scale of the problem, responds with the urgency needed; and guarantees the long-term survival of small island developing States (SIDS), LDCs, and other vulnerable groups. She said a political outcome was inadequate, and AOSIS would “have to consider our options” if a legally-binding outcome is not achieved. She said a final agreement must address emission reductions by all major emitting countries and should limit temperature increases to below 1.5°C and atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations to 350ppm. She indicated that agreement should also provide for stable, predictable and adequate financing for adaptation, capacity building, technology and mitigation.
Mexico, for the ENVIRONMENTAL INTEGRITY GROUP, supported a legally-binding outcome agreed by political leaders in Copenhagen. He said negotiations under the Protocol must include quantified emission reduction targets for Annex I parties and the flexibility mechanisms, and urged the conclusion of negotiations on both tracks ahead of the high-level segment.
Australia, for the UMBRELLA GROUP, supported a limit of 2°C on global temperature rise and a 50% reduction in global emissions by 2050. She said all Umbrella Group members are prepared to propose individual reduction targets that will substantially reduce their emissions by 2020, with their actions being subjected to robust monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV). She supported “quick, substantial and high-impact financing to assist the most vulnerable developing countries,” particularly LDCs and SIDS. She also noted the emerging consensus that a core element of the Copenhagen accord should be to mobilize US$10 billion a year by 2012 to support adaptation and mitigation in developing countries. She suggested that the aim in Copenhagen was to forge a political vision that will guide global actions and lead to a new legally-binding treaty – the Copenhagen accord – as soon as possible.
Sweden, for the EU, called for a Copenhagen agreement to be inclusive, encompass non-Annex I parties, cover all building blocks and be based on the principles of the Convention. He said the agreement should be translated into a universal, legally-binding agreement in Copenhagen or by a specified time in 2010. He welcomed recent clarification on levels of ambition and urged parties to increase their pledges if possible. The EU highlighted the need for funding in the order of €100 billion annually by 2020 to support adaptation, mitigation, REDD, technology and capacity building. He noted the need for fast-start financing of €5-7 billion to enable immediate action.
ORGANIZATIONAL MATTERS: AWG-LCA Chair Michael Zammit Cutajar (Malta) opened AWG-LCA 8, reminding parties that the AWG-LCA has to conclude its work in Copenhagen. Parties adopted the agenda and agreed to the organization of work (FCCC/AWGLCA/2009/15 and 16).
LONG-TERM COOPERATIVE ACTION: Chair Zammit Cutajar noted the report of AWG-LCA 7 (FCCC/AWGLCA/2009/14), containing the compilation of the latest non-papers on each element being discussed under the agenda item. He also noted agreement in Barcelona to work in one contact group in Copenhagen. On the way forward, he said the contact group would begin working on 8 December and that it would launch drafting groups to produce agreed text on all the elements of the BAP, using the non-papers as a starting point. He said the groups would produce text in the form of draft COP decisions, stressing that this would not prejudice the legal form of the agreed outcome and that parties had the right to bring forward proposals on a different legal form.
OPENING STATEMENTS: Sudan, for the G-77/CHINA, called on parties to fulfill the mandate of the BAP and to reject attempts to shift responsibility onto developing countries. Grenada, for AOSIS, said all elements of a legally-binding agreement guaranteeing the viability of SIDS and other vulnerable developing countries are embedded in the existing text, but that political will is required to realize an agreement. Lesotho, for the LDCs, called for a legally-binding agreement prioritizing adaptation and scaling up financing.
Australia, for the UMBRELLA GROUP, underscored the importance of MRV. Sweden, for the EU, highlighted the importance of: increased ambition on mid-term reductions; inclusion of emissions from the international aviation and maritime transport sectors; fast-track and long-term financing that includes the private sector and carbon market; and action on a performance-based mechanism for REDD.
Switzerland, for the ENVIRONMENTAL INTEGRITY GROUP, supported a registry for nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs), without prejudicing how it would be institutionalized, and a robust MRV process.
Algeria, for the AFRICAN GROUP, said the AWG-LCA must set commitments for developed countries that are not Protocol parties that are comparable to those taken by other developed countries under the Protocol in the second commitment period.
Cuba spoke for the BOLIVARIAN ALLIANCE FOR THE PEOPLES OF OUR AMERICA-PEOPLES’ TRADE TREATY (ALBA-TCP), consisting of Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Venezuela. He called for developed countries to honor their climate debt and rejected attempts to transfer responsibilities to developing countries. Costa Rica spoke for countries belonging to the CENTRAL AMERICAN INTEGRATION SYSTEM, consisting of Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and the Dominican Republic. He called for an outcome that is consistent with the UNFCCC and Protocol and urged developed countries to show leadership.
TANZANIA emphasized the need to conclude a legally-binding agreement, noting that success would be measured by addressing the concerns and challenges highlighted by developing counties.
BELARUS highlighted the needs of countries with economies in transition for technologies and capacity building, and GUYANA noted that areas such as adaptation, technology and REDD-plus offer “low-hanging fruit” for early action. KYRGYZSTAN and TAJIKISTAN underlined the importance of addressing mountain ecosystems.
The RUSSIAN FEDERATION supported a single comprehensive agreement for the post-Kyoto period, and NORWAY said a future agreement should include the necessary 2050 goal and adequate and ambitious collective emission reductions by 2020, with the participation of all countries, except LDCs.
INDIA said aggregate emission reductions by Annex I parties should be the starting point for an outcome from the AWG-LCA and that its mandate should not change if work extends beyond Copenhagen.
The US underscored new announcements on its emissions reduction target in the range of 17% below 2005 levels by 2020, with a trajectory to 42% reduction by 2030 to meet the goal of 83% by 2050. He also highlighted the importance of regular reporting and international review for all parties.
BOLIVIA, supported by the G-77/CHINA and SAUDI ARABIA, said funding in the range of US$10 billion per year is insufficient. Calling for open, transparent and inclusive negotiations, NIGERIA noted that lack of progress under the AWG-LCA stems from “deep distrust and lack of faith in the negotiation process.” BANGLADESH noted the need to agree on a quick start fund and said a legally-binding instrument must be the goal. The SOLOMON ISLANDS stressed that “failure is not an option in Copenhagen.”
JAPAN expressed its commitment to reaching a substantial agreement in Copenhagen, which he said should be translated into a legally-binding treaty as soon as possible in 2010.
The INTERNATIONAL MARITIME ORGANIZATION (IMO) highlighted its work on regulating emissions from shipping. The INTERNATIONAL CIVIL AVIATION ORGANIZATION (ICAO) outlined a programme of action that includes a global goal of a 2% annual improvement in fuel efficiency until 2050 and a framework for market-based measures. The INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF RED CROSS AND RED CRESCENT said an agreement needs to assist the poorest and most vulnerable populations and help national governments implement early adaptation measures.
The INTERNATIONAL CHAMBER OF COMMERCE highlighted actions of business to address climate change, particularly through market mechanisms, and asked for mechanisms to ensure that mitigation investments are safe.
CLIMATE ACTION NETWORK INTERNATIONAL advocated a fair, ambitious and legally-binding agreement. CLIMATE JUSTICE NOW emphasized that the climate change problem would not be solved by negotiating an agreement behind closed doors. The INTERNATIONAL INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ FORUM ON CLIMATE CHANGE called for the inclusion of international human rights standards within the framework of the AWG-LCA, particularly the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. UNITED CITIES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS emphasized that no country will meet their commitments without support from local authorities.
GENDER CC – WOMEN FOR CLIMATE JUSTICE underscored the importance of fully integrating gender perspectives to bring about action on all aspects of climate change. The INTERNATIONAL TRADE UNION CONFEDERATION said bold government policies to promote climate-friendly innovations and industries could create millions of new jobs. The AUSTRALIAN YOUTH CLIMATE COALITION said youth are mobilizing support from millions for a fair, adequate and legally-binding instrument and stressed that “survival is not negotiable.”
ORGANIZATIONAL MATTERS: COP/MOP President Hedegaard opened COP/MOP 5. Delegates adopted the agenda (FCCC/KP/CMP/2009/1 and Add.1) and agreed to the organization of work. On the election of officers, President Hedegaard noted that COP/MOP 5 would return to the issue after informal consultations.
OPENING STATEMENTS: Sudan, for the G-77/CHINA, stressed that the core mandate of the ongoing negotiations is to define ambitious quantified emission reduction targets for future commitment periods. He emphasized the “huge” gap between Annex I emission reduction pledges and what is required by science, and said negotiations should result in separate agreements under the AWG-KP and AWG-LCA.
Australia, for the UMBRELLA GROUP, called for bold action and a strong legally-binding outcome that provides clarity on rules for the flexibility mechanisms and for land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF). He stated that the negotiations under the Protocol provide a foundation for a single new legally-binding treaty.
Grenada, for AOSIS, highlighted the Protocol as a central part of the climate change architecture and emphasized that its institutions must be reaffirmed and strengthened the COP/MOP through ambitious emission reduction targets for the second and subsequent commitment periods, consistent with the science.
Lesotho, for the LDCs, said the Protocol is the only instrument in place to harmonize efforts to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and stressed that the AWG-KP should be “steered away from” the AWG-LCA, to maintain the distinction between the two tracks.
Switzerland, for the ENVIRONMENTAL INTEGRITY GROUP, called for a follow-up agreement to the Protocol in order for industrialized countries to continue and intensify their emission reduction commitments, and called on all Annex I countries to take the lead in achieving the 2°C objective.
Sweden, for the EU, highlighted the need to arrive at an effective agreement in Copenhagen. He stressed that although the Protocol has been the primary tool for combating climate change since 1997, Copenhagen should result in a global, ambitious and comprehensive agreement that is more inclusive than the Protocol. He said developed countries should cut their emissions by 30% below 1990 levels by 2020, and economically-advanced developing countries should take appropriate actions according to their responsibility and capacity.
ORGANIZATIONAL MATTERS: AWG-KP Chair John Ashe (Antigua and Barbuda) welcomed participants to the tenth and final session of the AWG-KP. He explained that the AWG-KP’s mandate is to develop a proposal for amending the Protocol and define quantified emission reduction commitments for Annex I parties for the post-2012 period. He urged parties not to be distracted from this task. He also noted that although documentation to assist negotiations had been developed (FCCC/KP/AWG/2009/10/Rev.3; FCCC/KP/AWG/2009/10/Add.1/Rev.2; FCCC/KP/AWG/2009/10/Add.2; FCCC/KP/AWG/2009/10/Add.3/Rev.3; FCCC/KP/AWG/2009/10/Add.4/Rev.2; FCCC/KP/AWG/2009/12/Rev.2), there was no formal negotiating text. He called for this situation to be resolved.
Parties then adopted the agenda and organization of work (FCCC/KP/AWG/2009/15 and 16).
OPENING STATEMENTS: Sudan, for the G-77/CHINA, expressed concern at the “insistence” of Annex I parties on a single outcome in Copenhagen and stressed that this undermines the mandate under the Bali Roadmap to finalize negotiations on: further commitments of Annex I parties for the second and subsequent commitment periods under the Protocol; and an agreed outcome under the Convention, aimed at sustained and full implementation of its provisions. He urged parties to build on the Protocol’s success by establishing more ambitious targets for the second commitment period, as well as developing means to address the potential consequences of Annex I parties’ policies and measures on developing countries. He underlined the need for an inclusive, fair, effective and equitable international climate change regime with a strong Kyoto Protocol.
Sweden, for the EU, said a Copenhagen deal must deliver concrete results and include all the essential components of the Kyoto Protocol. He highlighted that climate change science requires emissions to peak no later than 2020 and halve by 2050 in order to keep global warming below 2°C, and stated that the Kyoto Protocol alone cannot achieve this. He called for a global, ambitious and comprehensive agreement in Copenhagen. He urged agreement on numbers, noting the challenge of achieving this across the two negotiating tracks. He also called for progress on issues such as LULUCF accounting rules and the flexibility mechanisms.
Noting the need for rules on markets and LULUCF, Australia, for the UMBRELLA GROUP, called for broad and effective participation of all parties under a single, new legally-binding agreement. Grenada, for AOSIS, stressed that emissions must peak by 2015 to avoid catastrophic impacts for vulnerable States such as SIDS, and to minimize the risks of irreversible impacts. She emphasized the economic and technical feasibility of 45% emission reductions by 2020 and 95% reductions by 2050. She said the current Annex I pledges, amounting to 13-19% reductions below 1990 levels by 2020, are inadequate. Finally, she called on countries to muster the “political will and political skill” to overcome “timidity and cowardice” and achieve the necessary emission reductions.
Lesotho, for the LDCs, stressed the Protocol as critical to the UNFCCC process and identified ambitious emission reductions by Annex I parties as the only way to reduce the already evident impacts of climate change. He called for targets to limit temperature increase to 1.5°C and keep greenhouse gas concentrations below 350 ppm. He said ending the Protocol is unacceptable, urged maintaining a distinction between the AWGs and called for discussing the Protocol issues only under the AWG-KP.
Switzerland, for the ENVIRONMENTAL INTEGRITY GROUP, called for continuing the Protocol’s key elements, including quantified and legally-binding objectives, the flexibility mechanisms and a transparent monitoring system.
ANNEX I FURTHER COMMITMENTS: Chair Ashe introduced the agenda item, noting that this would be divided into four main components, namely: Annex I parties’ aggregate and individual emission reduction commitments (“numbers”); other issues identified in paragraph 49(c) of the report of AWG-KP 6 (FCCC/AWG/2008/8); potential consequences; and legal matters. He said that in accordance with the agreement reached at AWG-KP 9 in Barcelona, 60% of the available time would be allocated to the “numbers” group.
Parties subsequently agreed to establish four contact groups on:
- Annex I emission reductions, co-chaired by Leon Charles (Grenada) and Gertraud Wollansky (Austria);
- other issues, chaired by AWG-KP Vice-Chair Harald Dovland (Norway);
- potential consequences, co-chaired by Mama Konaté (Mali) and Andrew Ure (Australia); and
- legal matters, co-chaired by María Andrea Albán Durán (Colombia) and Gerhard Loibl (Austria), to meet only if requested by the other contact groups.
Chair Ashe said the groups will focus on preparing draft Protocol amendments and COP/MOP decisions and that, if unable to do so, they will at a minimum develop text with a limited number of clearly defined options from which ministers can choose.
AWG-KP’s REPORT TO THE COP/MOP: Chair Ashe explained that the results of the AWG-KP’s work will be reported to the COP/MOP on 16 December. Parties agreed to establish a contact group to consider this in a single setting and AWG-KP Chair Ashe said he would consult on the timing to launch the group’s work.
OTHER MATTERS: Chair Ashe said the last plenary would be held on 15 December, when parties would consider the closing reports from the contact groups and any draft conclusions, as well as the results of the AWG-KP’s work and what should be forwarded to the COP/MOP.
Costa Rica read a statement on behalf of countries belonging to the CENTRAL AMERICAN INTEGRATION SYSTEM.He called for, inter alia, an outcome in Copenhagen that: is consistent with the Convention, the Protocol and the BAP; extends the Protocol for a second commitment period; includes ambitious and legally-binding emission reduction targets by Annex I countries; and takes into account the need to stabilize at 350 ppm and limit temperature increase to 1.5°C. He added that Annex I countries should reduce their emissions by 45% by 2020 and by 95% by 2050 compared with 1990 levels.
IN THE CORRIDORS
As the critically important COP 15 opened on Monday, the halls of the Bella Center in Copenhagen filled quickly as eager delegates and observers arrived to attend the welcoming ceremony. With around 34,000 participants having applied for accreditation, COP 15 is by far the biggest meeting held under the UNFCCC. Given the capacity of the Bella Center to accommodate only 15,000 people and limited space in the plenary halls, some observers were already worrying about access to the negotiations and side events. Media accreditation also had to be suspended after reaching the 5,000 ceiling.
The mood in the crowded corridors seemed to be one of anticipation, excitement, and even guarded optimism. Some wondered, however, whether the hopefulness would ultimately translate into political will to reach a strong outcome setting the world on the track to avoid dangerous climate change. “The meeting is too big to fail,” commented one participant. Several others appeared to be genuinely uncertain about what Copenhagen will ultimately achieve. “Some of the high-level opening statements were less ambitious than I had hoped for,” lamented some parties, with others alluding to “mixed signals.” Many developed countries were heard talking about political declarations and COP decisions, with a possible roadmap for adopting a legally-binding instrument later. Others, however, especially vulnerable developing countries, continued working towards text that would result in a legally-binding outcome to be adopted in Copenhagen.
“Climategate” was another popular subject, particularly after the call by Saudi Arabia for an independent international investigation of the work of the scientific unit affected. Although one scientific expert called it a “tempest in a teacup,” others worried that it could distract from the “more serious” work in Copenhagen. Some participants were also speculating on the source of the hacking efforts and related break-ins.
Several participants were expressing surprise at the appearance of a prominent developing country negotiator in the delegation of Sudan. This fueled speculation that her role as a “hardline negotiator” for the South had been in jeopardy following pressure from certain parties. “These kind of personality conflicts will happen more often now we’re at such a critical part of this high-stakes game,” said one observer.