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Copenhagen report IV Copenhagen report IV
by Euro Reporter
2009-12-12 10:03:09
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EU leaders make climate change funding pledges

Britain and France have announced that they will each contribute at least £1.5 billion to the climate change fund for 2010 to 2012 to help developing nations finance environmental schemes. Speaking at a joint news conference with French president Nicolas Sarkozy, Gordon Brown said: "This world deal at Copenhagen must be ambitious, global, comprehensive and legally-binding within six months."

The British prime minister added that he was confident that Europe would pay its share of the £10 billion fund. EU leaders are reportedly attempting to agree on a figure before any deal reached at the Copenhagen summit comes into force.

In related news, the chief negotiator of the China and G77 group of nations has called on the US president to dramatically increase America's level of assistance. He stated that the amount of money set aside by the International Monetary Fund for global financial crises should be reapportioned to help with the climate change effort.


New drafts bring hope

A flurry of draft proposals for new international climate agreements hit international negotiators today, bringing with them what many delegates and environmentalists called new momentum toward a climate deal. Two drafts carry particular importance for the talks. One is a plan to extend the 1997 Kyoto Protocol (PDF), which sets greenhouse gas emission reductions for wealthy nations, but which the United States never ratified. The mere existence of that plan buoyed developing nations and international green groups, which have long worried that a Copenhagen climate agreement would spell the death of the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

The second draft (PDF) is a new agreement, proposed as a Kyoto companion, which would include U.S. emissions cuts and, as written, call upon developing nations to reduce emissions.  Authored by Michael Zammit Cutajar, the chairman of a working group that has toiled for two years that draft begins to lay out the details of what most delegates call the likely result of the Copenhagen conference: a sort of framework climate deal that paves the way for a new international treaty in the next year or two.

Both drafts received a warm welcome here in Copenhagen’s Bella Centre – particularly compared to the protests staged by developing countries and nonprofits over the so-called “Danish text” draft that leaked to news media earlier this week. Plenty of details were left unfilled, including plans for financial aid from rich nations to help poorer ones adapt to changing climates and shift to low-emission energy sources. But long-time observers of climate talks said today's key drafts showed a level of seriousness on finding consensus on key issues not normally seen in the first week of a two-week negotiating conference.


Radical cuts

In a day of major developments, the Alliance of Small Island Nations put forth a radically tougher proposal for confronting climate change than the US, China and other major emitters favour. The AOSIS proposal, which calls for temperature rise not to exceed 1.5 Celsius above pre-industrial levels, ran counter to a separate text released today by the chairmen of the summit that called for smaller but still significant cuts. Meanwhile, activists prepared for a worldwide day of demonstrations on Saturday that organizer Bill McKibben of 350.org said were "explicitly endorsing" the AOSIS proposal and would involve "millions of people" and 3,000 actions around the world.

"We are not backing 350 because it's a beautiful number," said diplomat Antonio Lima of Cape Verde, the vice president of AOSIS, referring to the alliance's call to reduce the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million from today's 389. "No, it is because of science," he added. "Some of our members will disappear [beneath rising seas] if we go above 1.5 C."  The rich-poor divide also reared its head on the all-important question of who will pay the bill for climate change.

Todd Stern, the Obama administration's chief climate negotiator, said Thursday that he "categorically reject[s]" the suggestion that rich industrial countries owe compensation to the victims of climate change. Stern acknowledged that the emissions of rich nations over the past two hundred years of industrialization had caused global warming, telling a press conference, "We absolutely recognize our historic role in putting emissions in the atmosphere." But, Stern added, "the sense of guilt or culpability or reparations--I just categorically reject that."

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