Saturday, December 19, 2009

UN Climate Change Conference, COP 15: Failure or Success?

Copenhagen, Denmark - The UN climate talks in Copenhagen were inches away from total failure during the night and this morning were gripped by a last minute debate on the legally binding nature of an eventual agreement. It is clear, however, that the present ambition is far too weak to tackle dangerous climate change. 

Copenhagen was at the brink of failure due to poor leadership combined with an unconvincing level of ambition. Well meant but half - hearted pledges to protect our planet from dangerous climate change are simply not sufficient to address a crisis that calls for completely new ways of collaboration across rich and poor countries.

Politicians around the world seem to be in agreement we must stay below 2 degree C threshold of unacceptable risks of climate change-in theory.

However, practically what leaders have put on the table adds up to 3 degrees C of warming or more according to WWF estimates. Millions of lives, hundreds of billions of dollar and a wealth of lost opportunities lie in the difference between rhetoric and reality on climate change actions.

The draft Copenhagen Accord is a long way from developing into a legally binding framework for decisive action on climate change. We needed a treaty now and at best, we will be working on one in half a year's time, said Carstensen. what we have after two years of negotiation is a half backed text of unclear unclear substance. Noon of the political obstacles to effective climate actions have been solved with the possible exception of the beginnings of financial flows. 

The lack of clarity is illustrated by a call for a global peak in emissions as soon as possible, in contrast to the 2007 call of the IPCC for emissions to peak in 2017. Emission reductions pledges remain far lower than what is required, with a leaked analyst by the UNFCCC secretariat showing a shortfall that would lead to 3 degrees C of warming even without considering extensive loopholes. 

We are disappointed but the story continues, said Carstensen. Civil society was excluded from these final negotiations to an extraordinary degree, and that was felt during the concluding days in Copenhagen. 

Esther Agbarakwe
Copenhagen. Denmark.

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