Where do we stand?

At the end of this first COP15 week, the two working groups have reached their goal as planned: they have written up their drafts. They propose to follow with a scheme as the one that already exists: the Kyoto protocol is continued (AWG-KP) , this means that the countries that are already committed to GHG emission reductions, remain committed. This draft does not define the levels of reduction; those appear in the document of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long Term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA). The group of Kyoto Annex 1 parties brings more precision concerning land use, land-use change and forestry, emission trading and the project based mechanisms and joint implementation.

AWG-LCA includes the countries who have signed the Kyoto Protocol as well as those who have not. From a political point of view, this is a most interesting document, as it includes all the Convention parties and, therefore, also the United States.

The AWG-LCA draft accepts the objective that temperatures should not rise above 2°C, as recommended by the scientists. The parties would commit to reduce emissions between 50 and 95% of 1990 levels by 2050. This indicates that all agree for at least 50%. Moreover, there is an indication that developed countries will go beyond at least 75%, that’s they will have always strongest engagements. The developed countries also commit to funding measures and to technology transfer.

The draft also indicates that all countries will have to elaborate national plans for the reduction of emissions. To reach this goal and the actions necessary, they will receive the necessary financial assistance.

Generally speaking, all of this is insufficient. Legally bound are only those that already were: this is the difference between Kyoto and the Convention. If a country does not fulfill the obligations under the Convention, there is no mechanism to force them. This is what China, India and the USA want. The objectives for reduction seem ambitious but it will be difficult to reach them if there is no legally binding agreement. And that is what small countries as well as the EU ask for.

And with regard to all of that, nobody has spoken about money. Numbers may be very high, but it looks like there will be a lot of resistance to great contributions. Only the EU has spoken about 2,4 billions of Euros over three years. And everybody agrees that this is little. And then we have not touched the fact that this is not fresh money, but recycled, coming from other areas of help.

Today ministers of foreign affairs have begun to arrive in Copenhagen. They will begin to put more flesh to the agreements. But the decisive moment comes during the last two days of COP15 when heads of state and governments will be in Copenhagen. They are the ones who are expected to assume leadership. Everybody feels that we are far from reaching a convincing agreement, but it seems also difficult to understand that so many leaders would accept to come to Copenhagen if they would not believe that an ambitious agreement is within reach. There remains a lot of uncertainty. The developed countries want to safeguard their own situation, the new powers don’t want to cut back on their possibilities of development, and the poor countries no reach to be recognized as those who have suffered most of the situation. All of that lies open for the next week.

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