Just now it’s about as clear as mud. The US-led Accord has only been noted in a decision, so despite the cheers of delegates, it is not operational, only guiding on the future negotiations. This is probably good in many respects, but here I’m just trying to report the technical implications.

And that probably really means more arguments in the working groups over exactly what the Accord means, merely adding to the confusion that this summit was supposed to clear up. The financial clauses of the Accord can only be operationalised through making them operational in one of the Working Group tracks. That implies that any ‘fast-start’ finance will probably only be bilateral, rather than delivered through a multilateral process under the UNFCCC.

We’re still waiting for confirmation that negotiations have been extended to reach agreement on a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, perhaps as soon as summer 2010.

And support is currently growing on a motion to ensure that the long-term cooperative action working group leads to a legally binding agreement at COP16 next year.

Overall therefore, the Bali Action Plan (BAP) has been retained, but extended. Rich countries clearly want the Copenhagen Accord to guide future negotiations more than the BAP. Developing countries are referring to the BAP repeatedly, because they want it to be the prime reference, rather than the Copenhagen Accord.


Here’s more general analysis:

“This US-brokered agreement is the weakest possible conclusion that could have come out of Copenhagen. It was not agreed in Plenary session, but simply ‘taken note of’ in a Decision. This makes it guiding, but not operational.

The US is claiming Copenhagen is a success. But this paper sets out the opposite. As a framework for a future binding deal, it risks condemning millions of the world’s poorest people to hunger, suffering and loss of life as climate change accelerates.

Science and justice demand at least 40 per cent cuts in rich country emissions by 2020, not the maximum of 18 per cent in the accord: and without all the widening loopholes riddling this text. The gap between reality and this flimsy agreement yawns like a chasm.

The accord also offers inadequate amounts of finance. Worse it tried to link access to finance to the acceptance of its other provisions – such as extended carbon markets, and weak and voluntary emissions reduction targets. This is another sad example of the coercive approach that has marred these talks.

We need a profound change of approach from rich countries. The COP must also agree to continue negotiating the future Kyoto regime and to conclude those negotiations swiftly. And this time the commitments made must be delivered. No more excuses. No more empty promises.

Yet, if the support offered to the accord by many developing nations stimulates the rich world to adopt tougher targets and offer more public finance, then it may yet prove to have value. The ball is firmly in the court of the rich world now – developing nations have made massive concessions to accomodate the US in this process, on top of the huge climate debts they already bear. Before the talks reconvene the developed countries must move decisively to repay those debts.

Otherwise, the losers from these talks will be billions of real people, while the winners will be the corporate lobbyists who want to continue business as usual in rich countries and expand carbon trading. They will benefit most from the commitments implicit here to expand carbon markets, especially  in forests.

Rich countries have been pumping out emissions for hundreds of years, effectively colonising the atmosphere. Now they seem to be expecting poor countries to pay most of the cost of cutting global emissions – and possibly to pay it in lives.

A 2 degree rise in temperature, which is what the Accord aim sfor, would still mean the deaths of millions of Africans and the complete destruction of at least four low-lying island states. And this agreement falls way short of delivering stabilisation below 2 degrees. The emissions cuts are less than half what is needed, almost entirely offset by massive loopholes, and entirely voluntary. A catastrophic rise of 4 degrees or more is a more likely outcome.”


More as I get it from our analysts …