Latest on the Copenhagen negotiations

Developments continue to come thick and fast as the first week of COP fifteen edges to a close. EU Heads of State were meeting in Brussels on Thursday and Friday with the Copenhagen conference high on the agenda. On the table was the proposal for the EU to move unilaterally from their 20% reduction commitment to 30% emission reductions without waiting any longer, and, a proposal for a short-term financing offer for climate action in developing countries, as something the EU considered could bring negotiations in Copenhagen forward.

The result was announced at a press conference on Friday afternoon, which included no more than a promise €2.4 billion in short-term finance per year between 2010-2012. Civil society has been monitoring the short-term financing debate in the EU carefully, however, and were swift to respond to the EU announcement. They highlighted the fact that the money announced represents very little new money, with the vast majority being made up of repackaged aid commitments made over the last two years, and that short-term financing, while urgently needed, could not replace the need for commitment to secure additional long-term financing. CIDSE and Caritas, together with ecumenical partners APRODEV and Tearfund issued a press release as soon as the announcements were made, describing the offer as a weak and empty gesture. See below for full text.

EU leaders also failed to make the long awaited move to the 30% they have been talking about for well over the last year, as some States wish to hold out until the end game next week, and others reluctant are reluctant to move to 30% at all. Therefore, although EU leaders emerged patting themselves on the back after a day and night’s hard work, they were presented only a few hours later with the infamous ‘fossil of the day’ at COP 15 today, a surefire way to expose the lack of substance in what they had come up with.

Also on Friday afternoon in the Bella Centre, in a Q and A session with the G77, the lead-negotiator from Sudan made a strong statement, rejecting any allusions to or attempts at creating a division between developing countries over the last days. Indeed, many in civil society have been quick to point out that suggestions of division within the G77 have been misconstrued. He made clear that the G77 is unified in its demands and that the events of recent days reflected nothing more than differences of opinion on the way to achieve their objectives – but had been blown up in the media, conveniently serving to distract from the real issue in these negotiations which is the that developed countries are still frighteningly far from what science and equity demand with regard to both their emission reduction and financing commitments.

He said that a deal that cannot save god, humanity and nature is not a deal that should be entertained in the first place, and called for a limitation of a further rise in global surface temperatures to 1.5˚C and an annual assessed contribution from developed countries of 1 % of their GDP. He said that is this seemed a lot, developed country governments should look to their defense budgets, and the amount paid out in bankers’ bonuses. He dismissed the EU’s recently announced offer of 2.4bn Euro as an amount that would not merit a lost nights’ sleep for big traders.

The Sudanese negotiator also made a strong plea to President Obama to join the Kyoto Protocol, which the US Congress is considered to be vehemently opposed to on principle. Developing countries and many civil society organisations have been fiercely defending the Kyoto Protocol with its binding targets and compliance system over the last weeks, and even more so over the last days as a number of countries, including Russia and Japan, announced that their emission reduction targets were not meant for a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

Nevertheless, new texts emerged on Friday under both negotiating tracks, the Kyoto Protocol and the Working Group on long-term cooperative action. These were Chairs’ texts this time, thus considered UN documents rather than proposals from any individual Party. Initial reactions by Parties highlighted areas of agreement and disagreement, but there seemed to be a general acceptance that these texts should be the ones that should form the basis for further discussion. They appear therefore to have replaced the convoluted negotiating texts of over 100 pages long that existed at the beginning of the negotiation session.

Negotiations continued on Saturday, beginning with the reconvening of a formal plenary to take stock of progress in each of the two Working Groups on the Kyoto Protocol and on Long Term Cooperative Action. The Chair, Danish Environment Minister, Connie Hedegaard, said that informal consultations would continue as no consensus had been reached on the proposal by Tuvalu made a few days ago to set up a contact group to look at the legal outcome of the Working Group on Long Term Cooperative Action. The Tuvaluan representative intervened at this point with a humble and deeply evocative statement, to make very clear that what he sought with his actions over the last few days was not to create public attention for his delegation or to embarrass the Danish Presidency, but to use all remaining options that remain open to secure the very survival of his country. He made a very direct call to President Obama not to let what needs to be done be jeopardised by a small number of Senators. His intervention, steeped in raw emotion, was met with thunderous applause in the room. How much, if at all, it will have stirred the developed countries with the weakest positions, however, is unfortunately hard to tell.

Whilst negotiations continued in the Bella Centre the Caritas and CIDSE delegation gathered on Saturday with around 100,000 other people, according to onsite estimates, for a demonstration starting at the Copenhagen Parliament Square and ending up at the COP 15 Centre in the early evening. The CIDSE Caritas group was around 100 strong with big brightly coloured placards with our joint campaign slogan, ‘Create a Climate for Justice!’, banners, balloons and hearty lungs. Climate inspired Christmas carols as well as more typical march-like chants kept stamina levels up and helped to ward of the chills of the cold Winter evening.

The CIDSE and Caritas delegation has almost reached its full complement with delegates arrived from as far as Mexico, Kiribati, Bangladesh and Uganda. The delegation gathered together first in Sankt Ansgar’s Catholic Cathedral in the city on Friday evening for a ‘holy mass for climate justice’ with the local Catholic community and guests and friends from all around the world here for COP 15. With resounding messages from the Archbishop of Kampala, and the uplifting music of the local choir, the service and the festive reception hosted by Caritas Denmark afterwards were heartwarming and reinvigorating after a week of political posturing and technical and procedural details.

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Filed under Advocacy, Climate Change, Denmark, Europe, Food

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