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Copenhagen report X Copenhagen report X
by Euro Reporter
2009-12-18 07:28:19
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Can Hillary Clinton Stave Off Collapse at Copenhagen?

With the clock winding down and the hosts of the Copenhagen climate conference reportedly abandoning hope of a deal, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced a possibly game-changing U.S. push to facilitate a $100 billion per year fund to help developing countries pay for measures to mitigate and adapt to global warning. Her remarks threw the spotlight on China and set exhausted negotiators back to work on salvaging a conference still teetering on the edge of failure.  "The U.S. is prepared to work with other countries to jointly mobilize $100 billion a year by 2020," Clinton told a packed news conference at Copenhagen's Bella Centre. But her offer came with a major caveat: that the recipients of such funds agree to strict and open accounting of how they are spent. China in particular, the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, has strongly resisted provisions for international review of its progress, and it has considerable support for that position among other developing countries.

"If there isn't a commitment for transparency of some sort, that would be a deal-breaker," Clinton said, underlining that the U.S. funding would flow only as part of a complete package that has so far eluded the Copenhagen conference. "In the absence of an operational agreement that meets the requirement that I outlined, there will not be the final commitment that I outlined, at least from the United States," she said. The proposal gave a fillip of hope to negotiators who have been unable to bridge yawning gaps between poor countries and the richest ones over how to pay the trillions of dollars in estimated costs to reach the conference's stated goal of keeping average temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius. The next 24 hours will reveal whether it is enough to reshuffle the cards and allow government leaders to sign a substantive agreement Friday.

Even if her conditions are fulfilled, Clinton remained intentionally vague on how much U.S. taxpayers would be contributing to any such fund. "We expect this funding will come from a wide variety of sources, public and private, bilateral and multilateral, including alternative sources of finance," she said.  Nevertheless, the prospect of any U.S. public funds going into such a fund is sure to further stiffen the spines of Republicans in Congress who don't even believe there's any global warming to mitigate. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla. -- already in Copenhagen at the vanguard of what Fox News reports will be 40 members of Congress arriving today and Friday -- poured cold water on any chance of an agreement. "Nothing binding will come out of here in my opinion, and if it does, it will be rejected by the American people," he said.

In a bid to head off the first of those predictions, President Barack Obama will arrive in Copenhagen Friday morning for what he hopes will be a signing ceremony with about 110 other government leaders. But while the 11th-hour U.S. offer may have helped prepare the ground for a substantive deal, there still may be too much digging to do before the conference is set to close Friday. The $100 billion a year offer is 10 times more than developed countries agreed to offer for a '"fast-start" fund to be in place next year. It reflects the fact that the richer countries have been brought up short by an unusual unity among the poorest countries, which most scientists agree will suffer the most from warmer temperatures. Their representatives have demanded up to $500 billion per year from the richer countries. As Politico reported, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez told the conference Wednesday, "If the climate were a bank, [the United States] would have saved it."

But according to the Guardian, it was Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi -- the head of the group of African nations that earlier this week walked out of the conference to dramatize their need for massive aid -- who put the $100 billion figure on the table before Clinton arrived. "My proposal dramatically scales back our expectation of the level of funding in return for more reliable funding and a seat at the table in the management of such fund," he said. Many other poor countries are still disposed to reject that figure, but their negotiating strength is limited. That is not the case for China, however, which is determined to reject any accord that would restrain its largely coal-fuelled economic growth. Premier Wen Jiabao, who arrived in Copenhagen Wednesday night, has reiterated promises to reduce the country's "carbon intensity," or the carbon footprint of its per capita economic output. But he stressed that "our carbon intensity reduction plans are voluntary and should not be linked with the rich countries' binding targets." China fears that international monitoring of its carbon output -- a key U.S. demand -- would create just such a linkage. If Copenhagen is to yield anything more than a promise to keep working, it could well fall to Wen and Obama to hash that out on Friday, in the final minute of the 11th hour.

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Uncertainty over Copenhagen talks


The Copenhagen climate change conference is heading for its end on December 18 2009 with uncertainty about whether ambitions for a comprehensive, ambitious set of commitments will be realized. Talks remain deadlocked, the BBC said on December 17; with developed and developing nations remain at odds over who should cut emissions, how deep the cuts should be, and how much aid should go to poor countries. World leaders and protesters converged on the conference venue amid calls for a pact to be achieved by the close of business.
 
Climate activists, angry at the slow pace of negotiations, descended on the Bella Centre on December 16. More than 100 were arrested when they attempted to breach the security barrier, while inside the centre; some accredited delegates from NGOs staged their own protests. Nine days of talks have produced no major breakthrough with some saying that delegates have spent too much time posturing and repeating positions rather than compromising, the Voice of America said on December 16. UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, in Copenhagen for the conference, said that a failure to act could affect the quality of life for millions of people. The White House said that US president Barack Obama was confident that an agreement can be reached this week.
 
The outcome of the historic climate change negotiations in Copenhagen hinges on the issues of emissions reductions and financing, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on December 16, according to the UN News Service. He urged world leaders to use the final days of the talks to strike an ambitious new agreement. The Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has found that to stave off the worst effects of climate change, industrialised countries must slash greenhouse gas emissions by 25 to 40 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020, and that global emissions must be halved by 2050. "I hope that the developed countries should come out with more ambitious mid-term target by 2020 against the 1990 level," Ban told reporters in Copenhagen.
 
The other main issue, Ban said, is "the most important key to bridge the gap between the developed countries and the developing," and he called for "sufficient financial and technological support for the developing countries, particularly the most vulnerable states." Ban said there has been progress on this front, with $10 billion having been committed every year until 2012 by both the European Union and Japan. With two-thirds of the money needed already having been pledged, he expressed confidence that the remainder is forthcoming. He also underscored the importance of a "firm commitment by the developed countries that this long-term financial support will be given and should be given and there should be an initial formulation of mechanism or mechanisms for this provision of financial support."
 
Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), also pointed to some outstanding issues in the final days of the Copenhagen summit. "I still believe that it’s possible to reach a real success [in Copenhagen], but I must say in that context that the next 24 hours are absolutely crucial and need to be used productively," he told a news conference. To pave the way towards "sealing the deal" on a new climate agreement, Ban met on December 16 with leaders and representatives of groups of nations, including the Group of 77 (G77), the African Group, the Least Developed Countries and the Association of Small Island States. Among the leaders he met on the sidelines of the conference were UK Prime Minister Brown and Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
 
The summit under way is "as momentous as the negotiations that created our great United Nations… from the ashes of war more than 60 years ago," Ban said at the opening of the high-level meeting. "Once again, we are on the cusp of history." Any deal, Ban said, should incorporate five key elements: more ambitious mid-term emissions reductions targets from industrialized countries; stepped-up efforts by developing nations to curb emissions growth; an adaptation framework; financing and technology support; and transparent and equitable governance. He underlined the need for countries to hammer out how to provide medium- and long-term financing to bolster climate resilience, limit deforestation and further low-emissions growth.
 
In a related development, a UN independent expert said on December 16 that any agreement reached in Copenhagen must emphasise human rights to avert hunger among the worlds most vulnerable. "Climate change is a ticking time bomb for global food security," said Olivier De Schutter, the Special Rapporteur on the right to food. Global warming, he said, disproportionately impacts some of the poorest countries, especially the most vulnerable in these nations, with small-scale farmers and indigenous peoples dependent on land for their livelihoods. The expert called on states to "exploit the untapped potential of sustainable agriculture in order to combat hunger and climate change at the same time."
 
He also reiterated last week’s call from a group of UN human rights experts, including himself that "a weak outcome of the climate change negotiations threatens to infringe upon human rights." Policies, De Schutter said, must be based on a human rights framework and take the right to adequate food into account so that the needs of the most vulnerable will be prioritised and that poverty and inequality will not be exacerbated. "This is not a theoretical debate," he said, adding that there have been real cases of the violation of the right to food linked to climate policies.
 
A new report issued on December 16 said that the cost of not reaching a global agreement to mitigate the effects of climate change in Copenhagen will be equivalent to 137 per cent of the current gross domestic product in Latin America and the Caribbean by 2100. Without international mitigation actions, the region stands to suffer losses in agriculture, biodiversity and infrastructure, while facing the growing intensity of natural disasters, according to the study, backed by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). On December 16, the EU and the African Union (AU) met in Copenhagen, according to a statement by the Swedish Presidency of the EU. AU chief negotiator, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, informed the meeting about the offer from the AU that he had presented earlier in the day.
 
"We need positive energy in this conference," Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt told a news conference. The offer, which will form a contribution to the final phase of the climate negotiations, means that the AU supports the EU’s estimate of how much financing is needed to fight climate change – provided that at least half of the money goes to countries in Africa and other developing nations. During the autumn, the EU agreed that 100 billion euro was needed between now and 2020 if the world is to successfully tackle climate change. Last week, the European Council decided that an additional seven billion euro was needed annually from 2010 to 2012 to help developing countries kick-start their efforts against climate change. The EU has committed to provide 2.4 billion euro of this sum each year.
 
"If we can show that the EU and the AU are co-operating with one another, then we are approaching that shouldering of responsibility that the world requires," Reinfeldt said. At the same time, Reinfeldt emphasised that Africa is responsible for a very marginal part of the world’s emissions. All African countries together are responsible for only three per cent of global emissions – and, of that amount, the majority comes from South Africa. "So the discussion between the European Union and the African Union is not only about emissions reductions. It is rather part of a global solution to stop climate change as a whole," Reinfeldt said. In a speech on December 16, Sweden’s environment minister Andreas Carlgren, representing the EU, called for greater emissions reductions from the world’s emerging economies than those to which they have so far committed. Carlgren said that the United States and China now hold the key to successful final negotiations.
 
"The EU recognises the action already taken by some developing countries. But the world needs more. We will never succeed without important contributions from the emerging economies. They must reduce emissions significantly compared to ‘business as usual’," Carlgren said. "The breakthrough must happen here and now. Now is the time to give and take," he said. He addressed the US and China directly, emphasising that their capacity to reduce their emissions would be crucial to getting an agreement in place. "Unleash your full potential and thereby the world’s efforts. Make it possible for the world to keep the rise in temperature to below two degrees", said Mr Carlgren.


     
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Emanuel Paparella2009-12-18 11:53:28
A modest proposal: there is still time to save the Copenhagen Conference on global warming. Here is a modest proposal on how to do it:the PM of Denmark,the host nation, should come before the world's politians and say something like this: we recognize that there is a necessary nexus between the destruction of the environment and the destruction of the world species of animals including ourselves, especially the whale and the dolphin, and the stewardship of the earth of which man is in charge in our times when we have the power to destroy the world and ourselves and end the show of life. We acknowledge our responsibility as a nation among nations in this regard, we are a small country and cannot do much of anything to have an impact but as a modest sign of guilt and repentance and repentance we proclaim that from today on the dolphins of the Feroe Island in Denmark will no longer be slaughtered. We will provide the food that those islanders need and declare the slaughter of dolphins illegal.

I dare say that such a gesture, even if it has no concrete economic particulars, would go a long way to encourage other nations, especially the developing ones, to think not so much in economic-political terms (as China is currently doing giving a bad example) but in moral terms and thus save the failing Conference. Too idealistic? Fighting windmills? Indeed, that may be the problem: ideals are buried by economic self-interest and greed. I am afraid that without ideals we are pretty much doomed and when we are gone from the face of the earth, alas there will be “nothing” and nobody to cry over our demise for god too has been long disposed of, he has been declared dead since Nietzsche’s madman ringing a bell in the wee hours of the night proclaimed him so. If all this sounds like Dicken’s ghost of Christmas, it is.


Emanuel Paparella2009-12-18 11:57:13
Corrections: politicians, repentance and redemption.


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