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Copenhagen Accord: Meaningful Deal or Sham Agreement?

December 19, 2009

As I write this, thousands are taking to the Copenhagen streets in protest against the preposterously weak agreement set to be named the “Copenhagen Accord”.

The “Accord” have been branded “a meaningful agreement” by the 5 nations that participated in closed-door negotiations at the eleventh hour. US, China, India, Brazil and South Africa have reached a “deal” on some issues, including a target to limit temperature rises to less than 2 degrees celsius.

The accord, which is not legally binding, merely sets a broad framework for reducing emissions. It also provides a “framework” for verifying emissions commitments by developing countries and the establishment of a yet-to-be-specified “high level panel” to assess financial contributions by rich nations for adaptation and mitigation. The agreement is yet to be signed and approved by the other 189 nations.

Developing countries are not the only ones frustrated over the proposed accord. The EU, which already has stringent emissions targets, is apparently up in arms over the deal’s toothlessness. The draft has also eliminated language from earlier drafts calling for a binding accord “as soon as possible” and no later than COP 16 in Mexico City next year. The deal presented tonight only indicated that the agreement should be “reviewed” and put in place by 2015.

In essence, the deal barely builds upon the Kyoto Protocol, much less enhances or improves it. The frameworks that have been proposed are not only non-binding, but ill-defined and potentially dangerously ineffective. It has also barely addressed the contentious issues of funding and a disbursement mechanism that have been the subject of many deliberations in COP 15. Calling the 2 degrees target inadequate is also a massive understatement.

The most frightening weakness of the proposal is the precedence it has set in excluding the majority of the Parties in key negotiations.

The accord, if passed, may give license to some Parties to claim
that they have fulfilled their responsibilities in climate negotiations and protract crucial efforts to establish a legally binding accord that is clear, fair and effective.

Obama himself admitted that there was “much further to go”. He’s right. There’s definitely a long way to go when you have gone nowhere.

We have all only just begun.

Live from COP 15

ECO Singapore

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 20, 2009 9:37 pm

    I grieve and yet rejoice that there is still- among our youth who participated – the energy to pursue the unmet goals of COP15. I have followed the blog of my granddauhter, Madeleine Newbold from
    Bend, Oregon, feeling- with her- the same seesaw experience she did, but without the misery of freezing cold and bitter disappointment in our so=called leaders. She has inspired me, as do all of the young who put up with so much hardship.

  2. December 20, 2009 9:51 pm

    I don’t understand why you are “awaiting moderation”. Please explain.

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