Copenhagen Climate Conference

The announcement, June 10, by the Japanese Prime minister to reduce Japan’s C02 emissions by a mere 8 percent until 2020 over the 1990 baseline has been the final straw to the preparatory climate meeting in Bonn.

One day later, Yvo de Boer, the UN Climate Chief, felt obliged to admit that it would be physically impossible to reach a comprehensive climate agreement until December in Copenhagen.

This puts an end to the hopes that humanity will be able to reduce its green house gas emissions sufficiently to prevent a suicidal degradation of the earth’s climate in the course of the century. The EU promise to go for a 30 percent reduction until 2020 if other developed countries were to follow suit, turns into a mirage. Not a single developed country has declared a willingness to come close to the EU reduction target of 20 percent.

The Japanese announcement lays also open the complete failure of the UN climate Secretariat to ensure compliance with “legally binding” climate targets. Indeed, in 1997, Japan had committed to reduce its green house gas emissions by 7 percent as early as 2010. But instead of reducing of its emissions it has allowed these to keep rising, which explains its reluctance to commit higher targets.

The UN is largely to blame for the situation in which the international community finds itself. It has wasted two years without focusing on obtaining credible policy commitments from the main emitter countries and allowed the discussion to indulge in financing adaptation measures and setting up new international financial mechanisms.

The present negotiation format is incapable of containing global climate change. It is therefore overdue and urgent to replace it by more effective machinery for producing results.

· There is no point inviting all 182 contracting parties to additional UN meetings before the 15 major emitter countries have not come to a consensus on their reduction targets until 2020 and on the practical steps to get there, including strict monitoring of compliance.

· It is necessary to define an annual pathway and extend it until 2030, as the US legislation provides for.

· It will also be necessary to agree to what extent reduction targets can be implemented beyond national territory (off-set, CDM).

· The main emitter countries must take a clear commitment on how to save tropical forests.

· They must address aviation and shipping.

· It is imperative to address the ways and means by which to obtain the reduction of C02 emissions. Emerging countries have to engage in a serious debate on the measures they are prepared to take.

· Such discussions will only be productive if they take place in a framework of confidence and intimacy. The Heads of government of the G 20 should therefore instruct their chief climate advisers to prepare a policy brief that sets out convergences and divergences among them. This should happen without any delay. On that basis, ministers in charge of climate policy should get together in early September to try bridging the differences, leaving it to G20 heads of government to finalise an agreed plan of action before the end of the year.

Assuming such an outcome, the UN machinery might step in again to place such a political deal into the appropriate international framework to be signed and ratified in time for entering into force by January 1, 2013.

The EU Heads of government should deliberate on these issues at their June 18 meeting.

Brussels, 11. 06.06 Eberhard Rhein

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