By Soumya Dutta
Copenhagen Update -- 19th Dec. Green Features
COP15 day 9 roundup
The UN climate conference in Copenhagen entered its decisive phase on Tuesday, as heads of state and government began to arrive for the final three days of negotiations. The leaders will be facing a defining moment in history, said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Michael von Bülow
UN conference gearing up for make-or-break finale
World leaders face a defining moment in history, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said as the Copenhagen conference formally entered its high-level stage Tuesday.
South Korea to bridge rich and poor nations
As the first emerging economy to take on absolute reduction commitments, South Korea hopes to play a key role in Copenhagen.
China: Poor countries are first in line for funding
So far the majority of internationally funded projects under the Kyoto Protocol have been in China. But other countries need the funds more urgently according to Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei.
Merkel concerned over Copenhagen pace
German Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced concern Tuesday about the pace of climate negotiations in Copenhagen and said she is "somewhat nervous" about prospects of success.
Forest negotiations are making headway
There is mounting agreement on rewarding tropical countries which slow deforestation under a new deal. This is the first issue where significant progress has been made in Copenhagen.
Further commitments needed to break negotiation deadlock
A blueprint, released Tuesday in Copenhagen, outlines three options for long-term climate aid from developed to developing countries.
Japan to unveil 10 billion dollars in climate aid
A pledge of funds from rich countries will be a key ingredient for any climate change deal in Copenhagen. Japan is ready to make an offer.
Australian PM warns of failure
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on Monday urged world leaders to be more flexible as a consensus looks difficult to achieve.
Schwarzenegger says states key to climate fight
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says countries cannot solve the problem of climate change without the help of states, cities, regions, activists, scientists and universities.
Developing world threatens battle on drafts
African countries, Brazil, China, South Africa and India say they have produced a default proposal to be used only if rich countries try to shortcut UN-led negotiations in Copenhagen.
HEADLINE --- EU challenges US and China
The European Union makes clear it is ready to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels - if the US and China "do their part".
The European Union will raise its emission reduction target from the 20 percent previously announced by 2020 to 30 percent "in a global ambitious agreement".
This was announced by Fredrik Reinfeldt, Prime Minister of Sweden that holds the rotating EU presidency, as he addressed the plennary of the UN conference in Copenhagen on Friday afternoon.
"We use the conditional 30 percent reduction as a lever to bring others with us to raised ambitions. We will keep that pressure!" Fredrik Reinfeldt said.
More specifically he challenged the United States and China:
"Together you are responsible for half of the global greenhouse gas emissions. You have different responsibilities and capabilities. From the United States we expect, as from developed countries, a legally binding economy-wide commitment to reduce emissions. From China we expect binding actions. Your ability to reduce emissions will be absolutely critical. It is promising that you have come forward with your contributions in an international context. However, the world needs more and we are confident that you have the ability to deliver more."
The present ambitions of the US and China will not be enough to keep global warming below two degrees Celsius, Fredrik Reinfeldt made clear:
"Therefore I turn to you, as a friend and a committed partner, and I say: United States and China: unleash your full potential and thereby the world's efforts - make it possible for the world to stay below two degrees!"
HEADLINE ---- Bolivia: Change the capitalist system
President of Bolivia Evo Morales: If there is no agreement at this level, why not tell the people?
Evo Morales, the President of Bolivia, took the floor to express annoyance at the way a climate deal is being thrashed out by a small group of world leaders at the last minute.
"If there is no agreement at this level, why not tell it to the people?" he said from the podium at the plenary meeting in Copenhagen.
"The time has come for everyone. We can't spend days and days here. We have other important issues to deal with," he said, calling for further consultations with the people.
"Who is responsible?" he asked. And concluded "The responsibility lies on the capitalist system - we have to change the capitalist system."
HEADLINE ----- Brazil ready to provide funding
As the first developing country, Brazil offers to contribute to the finance mechanisms under the Kyoto Protocol if an agreement is reached in Copenhagen Friday, says President Lula.
- Morten Andersen
In what he admitted might come as a surprise to his own countrymen, Brazilian President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva (photo above) opened a door for his country to contribute economically to climate change measures in other, more needing countries.
"I have not said this at home, and not even to my team here in Copenhagen, but if it is necessary for Brazil to tap money to other countries, we will be willing to participate in the (UN) finance mechanisms IF we reach a global agreement here in Copenhagen today," Lula said as he addressed the plenary of the UN conference shortly after noon Friday local time.
Also on the subject of funding, the President said he understood demands Thursday by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for transparency on the part of developing countries:
"Those countries that provide funds have the right to demand transparency."
Still, Lula underlined that the monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) of emerging economy emissions" should respect the sovereignty of each country" and that action on climate change should not hamper economic growth in the developing world:
"For a lot of people in Brazil, in Africa, in India, China and other developing countries three meals a day is still something of the future."
President Lula also said that he did not favor agreeing on a statement "only to be able to say we agreed on something." Instead "we should together, rich and poor countries, establish a common ground for an agreement, so we can leave Copenhagen proud."
HEADLINE ---- COP15 prepares for overtime
The climate negotiations could go on into the weekend.
With no impending agreement in sight, negotiators need extra time. According to Reuters, the UN has asked world leaders to plan to stay overnight.
"The secretary-general of the UN has asked people not to leave tonight," European Union Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas told Reuters.
He said he was confident that leaders would eventually reach a deal.
"I cannot imagine 120 leaders going back to their countries with empty hands. Everyone expressed commitment to fight climate change. OK, do it," he said.
HEADLINE ----- New draft for Copenhagen deal
In a newly written draft named the Copenhagen accord a 2010-deadline for reaching a legally binding climate treaty has been dropped, Reuters reported Friday afternoon.
- Marianne Bom
A new draft for a global climate deal in Copenhagen has leaked to the press. The draft has been named the Copenhagen Accord, Reuters reports.
Earlier it was reported by the media, that the heads of state and government could not agree on what to call the text negotiated.
In the new draft a reference to an end-2010 deadline for reaching a legally binding treaty was removed, compared to a previous draft, Reuters reports.
The draft did still include a limit of a maximum two degree Celsius global average temperature rise.
According to Danish media, a probable scenario at the end of Friday afternoon is that the world leaders continue negotiations until the early evening.
HEADLINE ------ Chávez felt excluded
Venezuelas President Hugo Chávez criticized the UN climate conference for a real lack of transparency, speaking on behalf of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas.
-- Marianne Bom
President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela took the floor at the plenary, Friday afternoon, and accused US President Barack Obama of behaving like an emperor who comes in during the middle of the night & and cooks up a document that we will not accept, we will never accept.
Chávez underlined that all countries are equal. He stressed that he would not accept that some countries prepared a text for a climate deal and just slipped [it] under the door to be signed by the others. He said he had heard of the existence of such a text, but we dont know the paper and then continued by accusing the conference of a real lack of transparency.
Hugo Chávez suggested he would leave the UN climate conference in protest of the way it developed.
We cant wait any longer, we are leaving & We are leaving, knowing that it wasnt possible getting a deal, he said.
The Venezuelan President spoke on behalf of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas, an alliance of among others Ecuador, Cuba, Nicaragua and Bolivia.
HEADLINE ---- Obama: I came here to act
"Our ability to take collective action is in doubt," US President Barack Obama warned the plenary at COP15.
- Rie Jerichow
As the fifth speaker, President Barack Obama took the floor in the plenary. He stressed that he did not come to talk, but to act.
Being the world largest economy and second largest emitter of greenhouse gases, America has a responsibility, he said, and added that America would continue to move toward a green economy "but we will be stronger if we act together," he said.
He told the heads of state and governments that it is imperative with a "mechanism to review whether we are keeping our commitments, and to exchange this information in a transparent manner." Without such accountability, any agreement would be "empty words on a page".
"Mitigation. Transparency. And financing. It is a clear formula - one that embraces the principle of common but differentiated responses and respective capabilities. And it adds up to a significant accord one that takes us further than we have ever gone before as an international community", Obama said in his address.
Finally he urged world leaders to "choose action over inaction; the future over the past - with courage and faith, let us meet our responsibility to our people and to the future of our planet".
HEADLINE --- South Korea: Copenhagen marks a new beginning
President Lee Myung-bak introduces a new institute to assist governments worldwide in formulating national action plans for clean energy.
- Morten Andersen
South Korea will attract the best minds from all around the world to work at a new Global Green Growth Institute. The institute's prime task will be to assist governments in drawing up national plans for green growth.
We only have a few hours left till the Copenhagen conference closes. However, this is not an end but rather a new beginning. We have not reached agreement on all issues, but this should not be an excuse for no action. There is no alternative to our planet, this is all we have, President Lee Myung-bak said as he adressed the conference's plenary Friday afternoon.
The president expressed his hope that the idea of green growth will be a beacon for other nations and make a dramatic change to their paths of economic development.
South Korea recently announced that it will cut its greenhouse gas emissions by four percent by 2020 compared to 2005 levels. This makes the country the first emerging economy to take on an absolute reduction commitment and not only a relative commitment compared to a business-as-usual scenario.
HEADLINE ---- Decision delayed on carbon capture
As some countries have reservations on carbon capture and storage (CCS) the emerging technology is not likely to be added to the UN-backed carbon reducing mechanisms here in Copenhagen.
- Morten Andersen (article corrected)
Capturing carbon dioxide at coal-fired power plants in order to store in it the ground is not likely to become a measure supported by the UN-backed Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) this year. A committee under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has discussed the issue, but delayed any decisions for summits to come, according to Bloomberg.
A draft text by the UNFCCC Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice recognizes that carbon dioxide capture and storage in geological formations has been proposed by some Parties for inclusion under the CDM, but also recognizes that other Parties have registered concern regarding the implications of this possible inclusion.
Some countries advocate of the emerging technology. However, other countries have concerns over the long-term liability for the storage site, including liability for any seepage, the draft text displays.
The draft text specifies that the Subsidiary Body will continue to work on the issue in order to produce a more detailed suggestion for summits to come.
HEADLINE --- Wish you were here / Absent Leaders
As the world's leaders flock to Copenhagen only a minority of countries are not represented at heads of state and government level. Reuters has the list of countries that did not send their leaders.
- Morten Andersen
A record number of 119 leaders from countries estimated to represent 89 percent of the world's economic output are gathered for the UN conference on climate change. Still, a number of heads of state didn't come. Reuters has compiled a list.
One group of countries on the list are oil producing. These include Angola, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Libya, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE (United Arab Emirates).
Another group consists of island states: Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Cape Verde, Cuba, Fiji, Jamaica, Solomon Islands and Tonga. However, most of these nations are represented in Copenhagen by the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS).
Ten Latin American countries are not represented by their leaders: Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.
Finally, for various reasons, the heads of state from Italy, Switzerland and Ukraine were not able to come Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi because he is recovering from injuries after an attack a couple of days ago.
HEADLINE --- Climate talks deadlocked as clashes erupt outside
Danish police fired pepper spray outside the UN climate conference on Wednesday, as disputes inside left major issues unresolved just two days before world leaders hope to sign a historic agreement to fight global warming.
- AP 16/12/2009 13:45
Hundreds of protesters were trying to disrupt the 193-nation conference, the latest action in days of demonstrations to demand "climate justice" firm action to combat global warming. Police said 230 protesters were detained.
Inside the cavernous Bella Center convention hall, negotiators dealing with core issues debated until just before dawn without setting new goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions or for financing poorer countries' efforts to cope with coming climate change, key elements of any deal.
"I regret to report we have been unable to reach agreement," John Ashe of Antigua, chairman of one negotiating group, reported to the full 193-nation conference later Wednesday morning.
In those overnight talks, the American delegation apparently objected to a proposed text it felt might bind the United States prematurely to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, before the US Congress acts on the required legislation. US envoys insisted, for example, on replacing the word "shall" with the conditional "should."
Hundreds of protesters marched on the suburban Bella Center, where lines of Danish riot police waited in protective cordons. Some demonstrators said they wanted to take over the global conference and turn it into a "people's assembly," and as they approached police lines they were hit with pepper spray.
After nine days of largely unproductive talks, the lower-level delegates were wrapping up the first phase of the two-week conference and handing off the disputes to environment ministers in a critical second phase.
The lack of progress disheartened many, including small island states threatened by the rising seas of global warming.
"We are extremely disappointed," Ian Fry of the tiny Pacific nation of Tuvalu declared on the conference floor. "I have the feeling of dread we are on the Titanic and sinking fast. It's time to launch the lifeboats."
Others were far from abandoning ship. "Obviously there are things we are concerned about, but that is what we have to discuss," Sergio Barbosa Serra, Brazil's climate ambassador, told The Associated Press. "I would like to think we can get a deal, a good and fair deal."
HEADLINE --- COP15 among the largest summits ever
The 119 heads of state and government participating at the climate summit in Copenhagen represent countries that account for 89 percent of the world's GDP.
- Rie Jerichow (article updated)
119 heads of state and government including nine vice presidents will participate at the climate summit in Copenhagen, according to the Danish Ministry of State.
This will rank the summit among the world's largest ever and the largest outside of New York, and obviously the largest ever in Denmark.
As the Copenhagen conference formally entered its high-level stage Tuesday, COP15 President Connie Hedegaard defined their responsibility in her opening address:
We cant do anything without you, the parties. YOU must compromise, YOU must commit. YOU must deliver NOW. Not only because of the climate. There is even more at stake. This is also about the worlds confidence in their global leaders will and ability to cope with the challenges of our time.
The 119 heads of state and government represent countries that account for 89 percent of the world's GDP, 82 percent of the world's population and 86 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Included in the 119 countries are the 20 largest economies and the top 15 greenhouse gas emitters in the world.
HEADLINE -- Merkel concerned over Copenhagen pace
German Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced concern Tuesday about the pace of climate negotiations in Copenhagen and said she is "somewhat nervous" about prospects of success.
AP/ Michael von Bülow
The crucial conference in the Danish capital, which is due to end Friday, has been marked by deep divisions between rich and poor nations. It is supposed to deliver a deal to curb emissions of the gases that cause global warming.
"These kinds of big conferences with many, many interests frequently get stuck, but it's Tuesday already and we want to be done on Friday," Merkel said after meeting Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
All involved should make a "constructive contribution so that Copenhagen can be a success," Merkel said. However, she added: "I don't want to hide the fact I am somewhat nervous as to whether we will manage all that."
Yudhoyono said climate talks in Bali two years ago had shown that deadlocks can be broken. "We just need good will and openness on the part of all involved," he said.
The hoped-for deal in Copenhagen is supposed to pave the way for a final treaty to be negotiated over the next six to 12 months.
"We need international monitoring of the results of Copenhagen ... otherwise every country can promise something (and) that's not enough," Merkel said.
"We need an international mechanism that monitors things" under the auspices of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, she added.
HEADLINE --- We're more ambitious than Kyoto: EU
Betwa Sharma in Rediffmail
The European Union has categorically stated that it prefers a single agreement that 'goes beyond Kyoto', following protest by environment ministers of BASIC countries and Africa that negotiations on the Kyoto Protocol were being ignored.
"We prefer a single agreement," Stavros Dimas, European commissioner for environment, told journalists in Copenhagen on Tuesday.
"We really support the architecture of Kyoto. . .we want to use all the good things of it but it's not enough. We're more ambitious than Kyoto," he said.
The overall climate negotiations are moving under two tracks -- the first track is LCA under Bali Action Plan that requires parties to produce a legally binding treaty before the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol ends in 2012.
The second track is the extension of the Kyoto Protocol into the second commitment period from 2013 to 2018 where developed countries listed under Annex B will have to take binding cuts.
The United States, however, is not a party to the Protocol.
The BASIC countries (Brazil [ Images ], South Africa [ Images ], India [ Images ] and China) and Africa want the developed countries to make mitigation pledges under the second commitment period from 2013-2018 but the European Union, Australia [ Images ], Japan [ Images ], Alliance of Small Island States want a document broader than the existing Protocol that puts obligations on United States and emerging economies.
On Monday, all consultations were suspended as the BASIC countries ministers went and asked the President of COP 15, Connie Hedegaard, for assurance that urgent attention would be given to the Kyoto Protocol and especially the clear targets for the second commitment period.
Referring to the suspicions that EU is trying to move away from Kyoto Protocol to get out of their commitments, the Swedish environment minister Andreas Carlgren said, "We are not at any level trying to elude the level of our binding commitments. Its not that we're try to weaken the binding of our targets".
"Rather, on the contrary, we want legally-binding economy wide targets that should cover all developed countries and we also need commitments to actions from the emerging economies," he added.
The EU also noted that it had always been a strong supporter of Kyoto having set up emissions trading system and invested in Clean Development Mechanism with 80 per cent of the of 23 billion Euros in CDM projects coming from the bloc.
Pointing out that the US and China were the two largest emitters of greenhouse gases, the EU called on the two countries to raise their 'ambition levels' adding that the US should accept legally binding targets and China should commit to action.
Calling for 'symmetry', Dimas underlined that it did not make any sense for the existence of two treaties, which could create ratification problems.
"All this would come in the simplest way in a single agreement. It will be consistent, avoid duplication, avoid institutional differences and a lot of other advantages," he said.