Copenhagen Climate Conference

The following has been submitted to Blogactiv by Eberhard Rhein.

After the meeting of the 17 major emitter countries in London October 18-19 it becomes possible to venture prognostics on the results of the Copenhagen Climate Conference due to start in 50 days.

  • The parties will not sign a comprehensive new climate treaty, as many had hoped for.
  • Developed countries will take individual, non-binding commitments for a 15-20 reduction of their C02 emissions until 2020, with the USA and Canada falling short of expectations.
  • The EU will therefore not raise its reduction target to 30 percent, as it had announced in case of comparable commitments by other developed countries.
  • Emerging countries will only promise to make best efforts to assure that the increase of their emissions will be slower than their economic growth. Developing countries will not even make such promises.
  • There will be no global reduction target for 2050. But developed countries will remain committed to an 80 percent reduction of their emissions by that date.
  • The parties will not agree on how to cope with rising emissions from air and maritime transport.
  • Nor will they agree on measures for preserving tropical forests.
  • The agreement will not provide for a mandatory transfer of technologies that might help emerging countries to accelerate the introduction of alternative energies.
  • Developed countries will agree to fund measures for climate mitigation and adaptation in developing countries, but at a much lower scale than the $ 100 billion annually having been discussed so far and not through a new UN managed Climate Fund.

This prognostic does not augur well for the future of the planet. Humanity has lost one decade in coming to terms with the risks of climate change, owing to US conservative resistance and Chinese economic exuberance.

Read also: Climate Change Lecture Series: International Efforts To Cope With Climate Change 1980-2008

It must make sure not to lose another one! Therefore it has to step up concrete measures in the coming 10 years for eliminating energy waste, raising energy efficiency and encouraging solar, wind, biomass and nuclear energy.

To that end, humanity needs a dynamic “international pusher”, able to monitor major emitter countries defining and implementing national climate agendas. It is not clear who could play that role. For OECD countries the IEA might assume it. For developing countries IRENA might be a more appropriate body, provided it has the leadership and the resources required.

Europe has to be the vanguard. This will be in its economic interest: alternative energies and methods to boost energy efficiency will create the jobs, which will disappear in traditional industries, and boost exports.

Read also: Climate Change Lecture Series: The Way To Copenhagen And Beyond

Combating climate change must be the single most important policy area for the incoming Commission. To that end, it needs to shift more human and financial resources to climate policy and put its best Commissioner in charge.

China, USA etc. have to follow suit. Without their active involvement it will be impossible the salvage the global climate. The EU therefore has to substantially raise the level of cooperation with both of them.

Brussels, 20.10.09 Eberhard Rhein

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