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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 …

In the cold light of day this morning, last night’s claims by the US, China, India, South Africa and Brazil to have brokered a ‘meaningful deal’ in Copenhagen are revealed as spin or fantasy.

The so-called Copenhagen Accord has not been adopted by the Conference, and seems unlikely to be, with several developing nations including Tuvalu, Bolivia, Venezuela and Sudan strongly opposed.

They are opposed because the proposal makes targets for emissions cuts voluntary, and expects both rich and poor nations  to offer mitigation action. They are opposed because the proposal aims for no more than 2degC warming, and this is too much for many poor countries. They are opposed because the proposal pushes offsetting and extension of market mechanisms especially in forestry.

It’s clear from the current long delay that these countries are now coming under pressure from all sorts of quarters to drop their opposition.

Other developing nations support the Accord, for two main reasons – first they have been told that without it the financial support offered by the EU, Japan and the US cannot be released. This may be true, but only because those rich countries deliberately tied the two issues together. Second they believe that any progress is better than none in the face of climate catastrophe.

The proposal has raised emotions on both sides, and in the heat, the importance of other COP decisions on the continuation of negotiations – especially to avoid a gap in coverage of Kyoto targets – is largely being missed.


The other piece of madness that is becoming obvious, is that if the US and its 4 collaborators had offered this Accord on a voluntary basis, they could have won fairly wide support without creating serious opposition.

And that might have really put the climate process back on track.

Otherwise it would have revealed how much of the support is only a result of the potential access to finance that the Accord offers.

Either way it would have been welcome dose of sanity – matching the honesty of Obama’s admission that his proposal would not solve climate change …

This is very difficult and actually rather balanced: if the Saudis want to avoid agreement, and the Maldives want it, one would expect to support agreement. But similarly if the Tuvalese oppose agreement, and Australia support it, one would expect to oppose it.

If the agreement of this document would stimulates the rich world to adopt tough binding targets and elevated finance, then it may yet prove to have value. Agreement would put the ball firmly in the court of the rich world. Developing nations would 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 would have to move decisively to repay those debts if the process were to bear fruit.

Most importantly, regardless of what happens here, getting the KP track progressed urgently, is crucial. Money can be provided  voluntarily or – as far as I know – under existing Kyoto obligations.

I’ll be back later to let you know what happens with the other decisions the Plenary should make.

08.01 UK moves an adjournment.

08.00 President sees opposition – the paper cannot be adopted. Can’t either circulate the paper for countries to subscribe to it.

07.59 UK – want those wishing to register reservations to be recognised. So they are pushing the whole thing on the back of the cash.

07.56 President: Regulations are that decisions are by consensus. Two options: no adoption; or flexibility to adopt it without those objecting or abstaining [but it would appear that do that would require consensus]. Asks UK to confirm proposal.

07.55 UK point of order – two decisions in the document in paras 9 & 10 (on finance) need to be made operational.

07.52 Maldives appeal to keep thedocument alive.

07.48 Bolivia on process – no one opposed the proposal that document becomes a Misc document listing the 25 supporting countries, and bring foward all the papers to future meetings.

07.46 Saudi on process: can’t agree by consensus, when no consensus, so UK can’t propose this, and President can’t accept it. Won’t establish new ways of working today and here.

07.46 Nicaragua on process: Presidency must respect the agreements and nature of the document. Cannot agree with changing the agreement.

This is outrageous – this is a consensus process. How can this be a feasible way forward. Is it legitimate?

07.42 Point of order from UK. Reiterate request of Slovenia – to turn into draft decision while giving ‘proper recognition to objectors’.

Still waiting for Chair to decide on how this session will make a resolution.

07.35 Saudi Arabia – has been going for 48 hours continuously – this is worst plenary I’ve ever attended: poor exchanges, management, timings. Invited into accord group. Worked constructively. Paper takes us forward. Reactions are as strong as if this was to be legally binding. We have – unfortunately – no consensus, and won’t get it however long we talk. Time to accept the situation, and find procedural ways forward.

07.35 Lesotho – LDCs group supports the accord.

07.23 Sudan – we have important decisions to take. There are ways to reach solutions, openly and transparency. Concerns about poor process in the second week of the COP – lost time in the processes. Three issues were taken out of the working groups: finance among them. Poor governance of finance. Way forward lies in extending mandate of working groups.

07.12 Venezuala want declaration to go down in records of the meeting. 25 countries of 192 participated: 14 developing countries of 130. Parties never gave Presidency a mandate to pursue that process, and not even for Friends of the Chair of the LCA track. Was a mandate for friends of the KP chair which delivered nothing. Formal groups did not agree on market mechanisms, but this group of 25 did. Group of 25 met at times that had been reserved for other working groups. The text has no figures that clearly determine what countries will do to cut emissions. Financial offer is dwarfed by the expenditure of the world on weapons and war. Backs 1.5degC, and 350ppm. We are like children cramming overnight for an exam – we will make mistakes. Need to tackle our disagreements of principle. This discussion is sterile. We need to progress. Only had document for 4 hours, started at 3am, because some countries were holding celebratory press briefings on a document we hadn’t even had. OUr principles do not have a price tag.

07.10 Brazil calls on all parties to maintain dialogue and understanding. Must be frank but respectful. Participated in Accord group in good faith. Now is time to act. Respect opinions of those who disagree, but this proposal demands action. Need concrete proposals of action.

07.09 Ghana supports this document and the commitment of world leaders. Wish to accept offer of quick-start fund. Concrete proposals on finance, technology are important. Support UK proposal to adopt as decision.

07.08 Chair awaiting legal advice on the Slovenian proposal.

07.02 Tuvalu (again) We are all tired and emotional. Shouldn’t get into blame game. Appreciate the value of document – but it has significant flaws that could affect the future of Tuvalu. Faced policial constraints imposed by other countries coming into these talks. Should progress KP and LCA tracks to address these flaws, while considering the document as a ‘Misc’ document. Please don’t jeopardise our future.

07.01 Belize – Accord is a basis to move forward.

06.58 Barbados supports the position of Grenada, that this was a transparent and open process. A well functioning multilateral process is our only protection. Can’t afford for the process to break down in political point-scoring.

06.53 Gabon was in the working group, with one ambition, to give the dynamic process a chance. Wants to find a compromise. Sees wealth in its ‘responsibly managed forests’. Should continue to have wide discussion.

06.47 Algeria – says the African group received this draft and supports it, even though they believe it can be improved

06.46 Singapore believes Accord group was representative, and supports sentiment and commitment. Want to resolve disagreement through compromise.

06.43 The Marshall Islands. Their fundamental right as a people to exist is at stake. Will leave Denmark with a sense of loss and sadness. MI one of biggest losers in this exercise. Nothing to show grandchildren for this absence from home.

06.36 Bolivia calls for 6% of GDP for adaptation funds. Object to lack of consultation and short period to assess Accord. Support view that the paper should remain ‘for discussion’.

06.34 Phillipines wants to see the substance filled in within 6 months. Supports 1.5degC target.

06.30 Russia backs the Accord

06.29 Norway says we can’t describe the finance as a bribe, else rich world tax-payers won’t stump up the cash.

06.20 Papua New Guinea ‘supports this document even if it is flawed’

06.19 Japan too presents itself as speaking for the most vulnerable.

06.10 Grenada – chair of AOSIS was asked to join in the accord group, with Maldives, Bangladesh, Lesotho, Algeria, Ethiopia and many others supported by the Secretary General of the UN. Regrets current division. Process was sincere. Didn’t get everything we fought for. Want the major parties to follow through with their comitments. Appeals to Sudan to reconsider.

06.08 Mexico says the paper was prepared in good faith. Calls on Sudan to withdraw offensive remarks.

06.08 Slovenia suggests the paper could be adopted with a footnote indicating which countries opposed it.

06.02 Four countries waiting to speak indicate that they oppose the UK proposal.

05.57 Ed Miliband speaks for the UK: there are now two roads – that set out in the ‘accord’, which will make substantive differences because of its financial backing. Accept this and start money flowing. Otherwise take the Sudanese choice of wrecking the conference. Passing this document ‘for information’ is not enough. Need a COP decision to get money flowing.

No surprise after their deal with France earlier in the week

05.51 Ethiopia ‘fully backs the document’

It’s sadly ironic to hear major emitters like Australia claiming to be acting in the interests of the the ‘most vulnerable’

05.49 Australia also defends the document and attacks Sudan. Claims to be supporting Maldives.

05.47 Spain rejects the inputs of Sudan. Asks for remarks on Holocaust to be withdrawn.

05.46 Egypt wants to see relevant names of countries on the document to be transparent on who was involved.

05.38 The Maldives PM speaks. ‘We do not need to go on about the impacts. Commends the Danish President. Fears the talks going the way of the WTO. Need action in the next seven years. Previous talks were not taking us to fruitful conclusion. Here the group of 26 countries has advanced. Big emitters are still blocking ambition of 1.5degC. Sorry that 1.5 was blatantly obstructed by big emitting countries. Still this document is a step in the right direction – even if unsatisfactory. Allows for a legally binding agreement within 2010.

05.33 Sudan weighs in: ‘this document threatens the lives of millions’. 2degC will result in gross violation of the right to exist of Africans. It condemns Africa to 3.5degC of warming. I cannot ask Africa to sign a suicide pact.’ He compares the impacts to the Holocaust. ‘No African leader has a mandate to aid and abet the destructions of Africa’. Applause. Wants to put on record that the President has been ‘biased, and violated all the rules of procedure’.

05.28 They’re off again – and the Chair appears to be accepting Nicaragua’s proposals, but India objects to having the document recategorised.

05.05 They are bogged down in procedural questions, as the Chair consults advisors

04.59 The Plenary has resumed after the suspension triggered by Nicaragua’s procedural proposals. The President suggests the Accord should be reissued as ‘INF’ documents (reports of the working groups) – but Nicaragua says they should be ‘MISC’ documents (submissions for one or more parties) instead.

03.51 Back on line, andwe learn that Tuvalu, Nicaragua, Venezuala, Cuba, Costa Rica and Bolivia all spoke out against the US-led accord, in a fairly chaotic session. The other draft decisions have been tabled, and the session temporaily suspended.

The reactions have been strong: Tuvalu cited the Bible – we will not betray our people for 30 pieces of silver; while the Venezualan delegate cut her hand, to show that ‘we too bleed’.

02.58 No action from the Bella Centre, and we’re being evicted again. I’ll post again in the morning, if not before.

02.42 More or less all that’s left now is a plenary to discuss the draft Accord – and we still don’t know if the G77 will stand firm and reject this sham, or fold under the intense pressure from rich countries. Apparently however although this venue was organised by the UNFCCC, it will close at 3am, regardless of whether events in the Bella Centre have concluded. If everything goes quiet here, you’ll know we’ve had to go in search of another internet connection.

02.33 Another asks whether it worked for the EU to keep the 30% pledge conditional, and if there was any dissent from this. The EU acknowledges that others haven’t responded – there has been a fight not to lower the target. So the EU is keeping the same approach.

02.22 A journalist asks if the pledges on cuts will actually deliver 2degC … The EU says 2degC will need 25-40% from developed countries but it’s no more than 18% now. So the US in particular must do more before 2020.

02.17 EU has decided to support the Accord, because it would have been “disruptive “not to, and they got various amendments accepted.

02.15 There’s a EU press conference going on. In the interim some of the less contentious COP decisions have been made in Plenary. They have set deadlines for June 2010 for the KP and LCA negotiations to conclude, working with the partly developed texts from Copenhagen, in Geneva.

02.13 Apologies for radio silence – due to internet failure. Now at the alternative venue – apparently available to us until 3am

00.45 Gordon Brown is backing the Accord – when he should be rejecting it, and declaring a unilateral step for the UK to a 42% target.

00.43 Anyone remember the Delhi Ministerial Declaration from 2001? No? Apparently that is the last time a COP adopted a political declaration without unanimity amongst the Parties. Didn’t it achieve a lot?

00.30 Delegates are now gathering for the Plenary. The G77 are giving a press conference, but we can’t view it online – we are waiting for reports from the inside team – who must be fit to drop by now.

00.22 Intelligence from inside suggests the EU and Japan have come behind the draft, but Brazil, Russia, Sudan and several other developing countries are likely to reject it.

00.15 Rumours are spreading that the EU might not agree this accord, although no-one can identify which countries are against it, and a couple of our team have intelligence that their country delegations support it.

00.12 Young FoE activists are gathering outside the Bella Centre for a climate vigil.

00.03 NOAH – Friends of the Earth Denmark are describing Obama’s speech as ‘the audacity of hype’ …

00.02 And the US financial commitment is hidden at the very end, just $3.6bn over three years – only one third of the level committed by the EU or by Japan.

23.58 There is more dodgy stuff buried in the text. Promotion of market mechanisms – responsible for loopholes in the current system, finance that is not all additional and public, and text intended to allow adaptation support to go to oil producing countries that can’t sell their oil!

23.51 The risk is that the Parties will go straight from failure to recriminations and blame, rather than stepping back from the brink with bold leadership in the Scottish model. The EU press conference is still awaited: they could still pull something out of the hat, but it seems unlikely as it stands.

23.44 The accord is toothless. It’s a COP-out. There are no targets apart from 2degC, and the numbers in the annex add up to just a 13-19% cut for the rich countries. This is no more than the scale of the loopholes in the current system. One reason for making these voluntary is that it disguises the scale of the failure of rich countries – including the EU – to step up to the plate.

23.38 A great description of what happened earlier: the US announcement was like Fox News ‘calling the 2000 US election’ – the real results weren’t in, but they decided the outcome and the story, and it didn’t matter what happened later.

23.35 The other bad news in the draft accord is that the provisions on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) are very weak – even seeming to open the door to financing plantations, which can have devastating impacts on livelihoods and human rights in developing countries. The door is also wide open for funding REDD via carbon markets.

23.33 The good news is that if the KP working group report is adopted it preserves the Protocol and says the Parties are “determined to ensure there is no gap between the first and second commitment periods”.

23.28 We have no idea of the status of this draft accord, but it’s not much of an agreement. It firmly endorses the aim of holding temperature below 2degC – but even the weak reference to looking at 1.5degC in a 2016 review has been axed. That means this is very bad news for Africa.

23.25 The texts circulating include a draft accord complete with voluntary pledges, and mandates for continuation of both the Kyoto Protocol and Long-term cooperative action working groups.

23.12 The EU has postponed its press conference. The Plenary has yet to start. The text may be a draft COP decision based on the accord text circulated earlier.

23.02 Confusion reigns – apparently there is yet another text circulating – another version of the accord. The plenary is due to start, and the EU is supposed to be holding a press conference.

23.00 The rest of the G77 are already meeting – and apparently just one objection could prevent this becoming a COP decision.

22.52 Obama admits there is not even a complete text yet to go to a vote in the Plenary at 11pm. This implies they want to turn it into a COP decision, like the Bali Roadmap. That would be worse than this being a political declaration.

22.49 Obama says that his ‘non-binding’ approach will deliver more action than the legally binding approach of Kyoto. But just in case, he will be seeking more binding approaches in the future.

As far as China is concerned it might be ther removal of the 2050 global target language from the text – which they fear would be a cap on their economic development.

22.47 We are trying to work out what is in the actual text of this ‘outcome’ that has brought developing countries on board – though maybe China, India and South Africa will not be able to bring the rest of Africa, Asia and Latin America with them.

22.45 I’ve never heart Obama sound so tired and halting – he has been working hard – but this is no triumph

22.37 Face saving for the US because poor countries will have to offer up voluntary targets too. This sounds like the death knell of Kyoto.

22.35 Obama is speaking: he says countries will subsequently make commitments. They won’t be binding. And they won’t lead to safe temperature levels. We already know that. What was the point of this conference? Surely it was supposed to negotiate national commitments.

22.28 We still have no text yet the world’s media ia already repeating the US spin that this is a meaningful deal

22.21 Apparently the Chinese have conceded on the issues of verification as part of the ‘outcome’.

22.20 The list of countries is fairly worrying: they are all big coal users.

22.18 The latest news is that a group of Parties including the US, China, India, South Africa have put a new text on the table. It’s not even the weak accord that has been under frenzied negotiation all day.People are beginning to call it a ‘sham deal’.

I’ll be updating this blog live until we know what the “outcome” is and what it means.

Everything rests on a knife-edge. This is going to the brink.

It’s deep in extra time, but we still haven’t seen any actual offers for 2020 cuts by rich countries, on which the whole deal would hinge.

Now we hear that some countries are insisting on a plenary vote on the current draft declaration. At the current state of debate we can’t expect agreement. But if the talks collapse it might be better than the weak political deal on the table now, which spells suicide for millions in the world’s poorest countries.

The US has delayed its press conference, and we’re still awaiting news on the outcome of the US-China bilateral – although by all accounts it’s been fairly heated.

At least it appears that despite the underhand tactics used to divide them, the developing world is still largely holding together: but when survival is at stake, things get very serious.

A decision to take this to a replay, reconvening what they would call COP15 bis might be the best outcome. The rich world has to realise, as Mary Robinson said at the Scotland side event on Monday, that our survival is at stake too. We can only address climate change if we own up to our historic responsibility, make deep domestic emissions cuts, and pay reparations for the historic climate debt.

20.10 Apparently the US is about to have a press conference to have another go at China. They’d get further having a press conference to announce that they would raise their targets or the public finance  they plan to put on the table.

19.30 I’ve been away from our nerve centre at the Klimaforum, giving interviews to BBC Scotland and the Herald on the leaked fourth draft Accord. Still no numbers on the critical 2020 targets for rich countries. But language on equity and a two-track process including the Kyoto Protocol is back in. There is also still text on market mechanisms and REDD which would dilute the effectiveness of any deal. And of course this is only a political agreement, not a binding deal anyway.

There’s also a rather farcical commitment to examine whether the temperature target should come down to 1.5degC – to be considered in the review in 2016. It’s  farcical because any realistic chance of keeping under 1.5degC requires urgent action in the next five years, and closing loopholes, not creating more.

17.32 Apparently Heads of State have gone to dinner. NGOs have been making statements to an empty plenary hall – uniformly condemning the process and outcomes so far. The Accord has gone to a third or fourth draft. I’ll post more analysis when I have it.

17.25 The latest rumour is that the G77 is on the verge of a walkout, though given the quality of information available so far today they might have just gone home for the night.

17.00 The talks were originally due to end about now: but there is no deal on the table. Delegations and even heads of state have been asked to stay on for another day. Rumours of walkouts, suspensions and bilateral meetings between selected leaders abound.

We know there are further drafts of the Copenhagen Accord, and by all accounts it’s getting weaker by the hour, with text defending the Kyoto protocol removed or watered down, references to equity and the duties of rich countries to act first removed.

And in the background, some of the negotiations continue with the hope of COP decisions on specific topics such as REDD – the deal to pay poor countries to protect forests. But the current REDD texts also look worrying with poor safeguards, and an open door for linking into carbon markets, which would be bad for forests and bad for carbon markets, because the already low prices would fall further as a result of cheap forest credits becoming available to polluters in rich countries, allowing them to go on burning coal and oil.
I’ll do my best to keep this blog entry updated over the coming hours

The US has done a good job of setting up China as the fall guy for any failure at Copenhagen.

But what do the figures say?

There are a wide range of estimates as to the meaning of China’s pledge to reduce emissions intensity by 40-45% by 2020. US sources tend to represent this as the same as business as usual, while European and Asian analyses suggest it could be worth more than 8.5 gigatonnes of avoided emissions. Forecasting business as usual growth in China’s economy of around 8% per annum, the pledge would pull back emissions in 2020 to 10.7-13.6 gigatonnes, compared with over 21 gigatonnes without constraints.

The US pledge – also compared with business as usual forecasts is worth just 2.7 gigatonnes, reducing business as usual growth from 7.2 to 8.7 gigatonnes, to under 6 gigatonnes (17% less than in 2005).

So, with plenty of caveats about what ‘business as usual’ really means, China is doing something like 3 times more to protect the climate. You might think its unfair to let China compare its emissions with business as usual, rather than an absolute baseline, but that’s what the Kyoto Protocol allowed non-Annex 1 countries to do, and it’s what the US under George Bush sought to do for years. Whats sauce for the goose must be sauce for the gander.

We’ve seen an early draft of the political declaration which has apparently won support from some G77 countries including the Philippines and Indonesia. The EU has expressed concerns that the draft is too weak, but as yet have offered nothing to strengthen it.

Everything is still to play for, but splits in the G77 make a fair deal less likely. The draft discussed this morning does not include numbers on emission cuts and nor does it include real money – just a commitment to “mobilize the money”, which is likely to mean extension of loophole-ridden carbon markets, and might even lead to raiding of aid budgets.

Even so, extra adaptation money is restricted to three groups (Least Developed Countries, Small Island States and Africa), excluding many poor countries and millions of people from the help they need.

The draft makes only passing reference to a temperature goal, recognising scientific advice to keep below a 2degC rise, and completely ignores the truth – as revealed yesterday – that current pledges and structures have virtually no chance of delivering this.

And astonishingly, further analysis of the leaked text from the UNFCCC reveals that in comparison with business as usual, developing countries are offering greater aggregate cuts than the Annex 1 countries. Depending on the scenario the developing world is offing up to 25% more than the rich world. This cannot be described as climate justice.

And the draft political declaration opens the doors for extension of carbon markets and offsetting, even including forests in such a framework. So far, such approaches reduce real action in rich countries, and have delivered increased suffering in poor countries.

And the declaration seeks to blur the two tracks of negotiation, and delays any final decision on the next commitment period of the Kyoto protocol for up to a year – leaving a major risk of a gap after the end of the first commitment period. In turn this would mean less certainty for low-carbon investments.

At best this declaration can be interpreted as an admission of failure to deliver on the agreements made two years ago at Bali, and an extension of the ‘Bali road-map’ for another year.

Obama has just said that this Conference should go down in history, but if the US and other rich countries do not raise their commitments, it will go doen in history for all the wrong reasons.

11.40 Apparently the Chinese, Indian and Brazilian leaders are have left the plenary hall, where other leaders are gathered to hear Obama. Obama is not there either. The speculation is of further last minute discussions in this small group.

11.10 An update. We hear that the leaders group is mainly the G20 leaders, but with six or seven further  representatives of developing countries including small isalnd states. Apparently it has reconvened after a short break, but remains as deadlocked as the formal negotiations. The disagreement is apparently over ‘legal form’ which is code for the timing and structure of future negotiations. This suggests that there is still pressure on developing countries to agree to dump the Kyoto Protocol.

And although Obama apparently leaves again this afternoon, there is a rumour that the UN has advised delegations to make arrangements to stay until Sunday. Unfortunately that doen’t mean they are close to a deal, just managing political appearances. To use a football metaphor, you don’t get a replay until you’ve played extra time!

10.17 Political leaders and negotiators have both been working all night. But the negotiations remained deadlocked in almost every respect.

However, Obama has arrived and is expected to address the Plenary in the next hour. Unless he offers a further last-minute concession of deeper cuts – which seems implausible without Senate support – then all we can now expect is a political declaration. Many countries have lined up press conferences for about 1 pm local time today.

And it will be a political declaration dominated by the rich Annex 1 countries. Rumours are rife, but it seems realistic to expect committment to a 2ºC cap on temperature rise – which is too high, and worse, it will not be backed by adequate pledges of emissions cuts to deliver 2ºC or less (even in this non-binding form). As the leaked text revealed yesterday, existing pledges leave the world heading for 3ºC or greater warming

There has been optimism amongst NGOs that the EU might respond to the US offer to support a finance package by raising its emissions target to a 30% cut. But I fear that in a political declaration leaders could simply account for the EU at 30% when publishing an aggregate figure for cuts across Annex 1 countries, even while it remains conditional on other countries doing more too.

That wouldn’t be enough to trigger raised targets in the UK and other EU countries until after the COP reconvenes to turn any political declaration into a binding deal. It would leave the US with its unambitious targets. Real action to address the climate emergency would be further delayed.

Despite all this, for the developing world, a reconvened COP next summer, or even in a year’s time would be preferable to a rushed legal deal based on the current texts in front of negotiators. From the headline issues of targets and finance, to the loopholes – such as offsetting, carbon markets and hot air – riddling the texts, poor countries are set to lose out.

Naomi Klein today describes the deal on the table as the colonisation of the atmosphere by the rich world, and the finance offer as tantamount to offering beads for Manhattan. The beneficiaries of a rushed deal would be Wall Street and the City, not the people already living with climate change.

The latest twist today is the leaking to tck tck tck of an official assessment of the implications of current pledges in terms of the climate outcomes. The bottom line is that at best, by 2020, global emissions will still be at least 1.9 gigatonnes greater than the 44 gigatonne level estimated to give us even a 50:50 chance of keeping temperature rise to less than 2ºC. That level of emissions would most likely commit the world to at least a C rise. This analysis is based on pledges from both developed and developing countries, and a business as usual analysis which takes account of the current global recession.

The real situation is much worse:  the  safe and just temperature target is really 1.5ºC or lower, and the analysis acknowledges that many of the pledges it considers in the best case scenario are not guaranteed, and do not take account of loopholes in the mechanisms.

The paper itself suggests the excess might be 4.2 gigatonnes if countries only deliver the lower end of their pledges. Worse still it cites a possible 1.0 Gigatonnes if countries are allowed to carry forward ‘hot air’ from the current commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. FoEI estimates suggest this too is an optimistic assessment, and that taken together loopholes such as double counting in the ‘clean development mechanism’  would add 3 gigatonnes in total. I don’t know what an excess of 7 gigatonnes would mean for the long-term temperature rise, but I certainly don’t want to find out in practice.

Fundamentally this document shows that the negotiators – at least those from rich countries with close relations with the UNFCCC Secretariat (which prepared this document) – know how much they have to raise their ambition even to meet the 2ºC target: developed countries need to do 30% absolute cuts on aggregate and cut loopholes in international aviation and shipping, even if developing countries commit to cut emissions 20% below business as usual. Clearly our demands for at least 40% cuts in developed countries are the real minimum required.

So the rich countries know how much they have to do, and now this document is in the open, they know that we – and the poor countries – also know. Perhaps this will be the final straw to persuade the EU to lift its unilateral ambition to 30% cuts over 1990 levels when EU representatives meet in emergency session tonight.

Communications inside the Bella Centre are being restricted: rumour has it that Blackberries no longer work inside; emails are being intercepted; and delegates entering plenaries are asked to park their mobile phones before they go inside!


The US offer on funding is being presented in the world media as a ‘deal-maker’ – but close reading reveals that it is contingent on a political declaration that includes all the US’s other demands, and even then they haven’t put a number on the US’s own contribution to the $100bn a year fund.


Complaints about lack of translation and texts only in English have continued throughout the talks. This is a major problem for non-anglophone developing countries.

Last night the latest texts were published. And the drafts on the Kyoto Protocol track – the priority for most poor countries – on the official UNFCCC site are only available in English. Strangely the texts on the LCA track – being pushed more heavily by the rich countries – are available in all five official languages. I wonder why.


As agreed yesterday, four FoEI delegates arrived at the Bella Centre this morning. But only two were allowed in. Again no credible reason has been provided. Strangely the two eventually turned away both happen to be black. Apparently  it’s only a coincidence.


The Telegraph this morning reports that Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) would not be included in the ‘Clean Development Mechanism’: but the texts we have – dated from last night – leave two options: that it won’t be included in the second commitment period – to 2017 (or perhaps 2020) because of technical issues – but implicitly that it would be included later; or that it will be included now. Brazil’s opposition seems to have come to naught.

There are many views on the possible value of CCS in the NGO community – but the idea that we should allow rich countries to get carbon credits for building CCS plants in poor countries, before it has even been demonstrated in the rich world seems almost as perverse as the parallel proposal that nuclear power should be counted under the CDM at the very time the rich world is trying to stop countries like Iran developing nuclear technology.

FOE Scotland

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