Copenhagen draft paper

Posted on 15 Dec 2009 by The Manufacturer

A draft environmental agreement was tabled at the COP15 conference on Friday but developing nations are less than happy with the progress of the event.

The first official draft for a new agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol was circulated to the 192-nation conference on Friday. According to Alex Desbarres of Comprehensive Framework Analysis, the agreement sets no firm figures on financing or cutting greenhouse gas emissions and is “riddled with brackets and holes the size of which could accommodate emissions from an entire continent for decades”. However, despite this, the climate deal draft does tentatively stipulate a cut in emissions of at least 50% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels.

The much disputed 188-page text was reduced to a mere seven pages of wide-ranging options on how deeply nations should individually and collectively cut carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The various options range from the exacting a near complete elimination of global emissions, to a reduction of 50% by 2050, using 1990 as a baseline.

While there is currently no consensus on the specifics of the agreement, a target of 75% in reductions (ranging up to 95%) is suggested for emissions generated by developed nations, while developing nations are encouraged to adopt “substantial deviations” from present growth rates in emissions.

The paper also sets a 2020 interim target for emission reductions of 25-40% for developed nations and “substantial deviations” from present growth rates in emissions for developing nations. According to Desbarres, the discrepancy between targets for developing and developed countries is likely to be an area of contention in ascertaining US cooperation. It also calls for new funding in the next three years by wealthy countries to help poor nations adapt to a changing climate, but proposes no figures and does not make specific proposals on long-term help for developing countries.

Yesterday however, developing nations temporarily boycotted the event amidst accusations that the developed nations were conspiring to get out of emissions reduction targets originally set at the Kyoto conference.

Developing nations are anxious to maintain two particular elements of the Kyoto Protocol because of their associated economic benefits. The first is the implementation of binding obligations for the developed nations to deliver emissions reductions, with penalties if those obligations are not met.

However of particular interest for developing nations is the framework of cap-and-trade which, with careful management by the developing nations, has the potential to produce substantial development benefits for their economies. Developing nations will seek to gain commercial benefits from their carbon credits, and will also be likely to invest in their own carbon reduction initiatives so that they have greater potential to absorb the carbon over-spill from the developed world.

“Significant efforts are likely to be made to reach an international agreement, says Desbarres, “[but] such efforts will fall short of a binding international framework that will curb climate change to the extent that scientists deem necessary.”

Tim Brown