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Dec 192009

Green Right Now Reports

The two week summit on climate change in Copenhagen wound to a close Saturday with the United Nations issuing a news release that many nations had agreed upon the issues that need to be addressed.

The agreement, seen either as a foothold or a failure in the fight against climate change, fell far short of the hoped-for signed treaty that would have included firm commitments on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the countries around the world.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called it “an essential beginning.”

“The importance will only be recognized when it’s codified into international law … We must transform this into a legally binding treaty next year,” he told the BBC.

The accord provides for industrialized nations to commit to specific emissions reductions targets by stating them within the agreement by the end of January, 2010. The top GHG-polluting nations include China, the United States, Russia, India and Japan, followed by Germany, Canada, the United Kingdom, South Korea and Iran.

Here is the news release from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the arm of the UN that oversaw talks:

Copenhagen United Nations Climate Change Conference ends

with political agreement to cap temperature rise, reduce emissions and raise finance

(Copenhagen, 19 December 2009) The United Nations Climate Change Conference
in Copenhagen ended today with an agreement by countries to cap the global
temperature rise by commiting to significant emission reductions, and to
raise finance to kickstart action in the developing world to deal with
climate change.

At the meeting, world leaders agreed the ‘Copenhagen Accord’, which was
supported by a majority of countries, including amongst them the biggest
and the richest, and the smallest and most vulnerable.

“We have sealed the deal,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said.
“This accord cannot be everything that everyone hoped for, but it is an
essential beginning,” he said.

The Copenhagen Accord recognizes the scientific view that an increase in
global temperature below 2 degrees is required to stave off the worst
effects of climate change.

In order to achieve this goal, the accord specifies that industrialised
countries will commit to implement, individually or jointly, quantified
economy-wide emissions targets from 2020, to be listed in the accord before
31 January 2010.

A number of developing countries, including major emerging economies,
agreed to communicate their efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions every
two years, also listing their voluntary pledges before the 31 January 2010.

Nationally appropriate mitigation actions seeking international support are
to be recorded in a registry along with relevant technology, finance and
capacity building support from industrialised nations.

“We must be honest about what we have got,” said UNFCCC Executive Secretary
Yvo de Boer. “The world walks away from Copenhagen with a deal. But clearly
ambitions to reduce emissions must be raised significantly if we are to
hold the world to 2 degrees,” he added.

Because the pledges listed by developed and developing countries may,
according to science, be found insufficient to keep the global temperature
rise below 2 degrees or less, leaders called for a review of the accord, to
be completed by 2015.

The review would include a consideration of the long-term goal to limit the
global average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees.

Heads of state and government also intend to unleash prompt action on
mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology, reducing emissions from
deforestation in developing countries and capacity-building.

To this effect, they intend to establish the “Copenhagen Green Climate
Fund” to support immediate action on climate change. The collective
commitment towards the fund by developed countries over the next three
years will approach 30 billion US dollars.

For long-term finance, developed countries agreed to support a goal of
jointly mobilizing 100 billion dollars a year by 2020 to address the needs
of developing countries.

In order to step up action on the development and transfer of technology,
governments intend to establish a new technology mechanism to accelerate
development and transfer in support of action on adaptation and mitigation.

119 world leaders attended the meeting, the largest gathering of heads of
state and government in the history of the UN. “Climate change is the
permanent leadership challenge of our time,” said UN Secretary-General Ban
Ki-moon. “I therefore urge world leaders to remain engaged,” he said.

“We now have a package to work with and begin immediate action,” said
UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer. “However, we need to be clear that
it is a letter of intent and is not precise about what needs to be done in
legal terms. So the challenge is now to turn what we have agreed
politically in Copenhagen into something real, measurable and verifiable,”
he added.

The next annual UN Climate Change Conference will take place towards the
end of 2010 in Mexico City, preceded by a major two week negotiating
session in Bonn, Germany, scheduled 31 May to 11 June.

(The UNFCCC has membership of 194 nations and the group that ratified the Kyoto Protocol, signed by 190 of the UNFCCC
Parties. Under the Protocol, 37 States, consisting of highly industrialized
countries and countries undergoing the process of transition to a market
economy, have legally binding emission limitation and reduction
commitments. The ultimate objective of both treaties is to stabilize
greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will
prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system.)