The 7th Generation Project

Quick Guide to COP15 - The UN Climate Change talks in Copenhagen

Primer [1] [2]

Point of Clarification: The COP in COP15 doesn’t stand for Copenhagen. It stands for Conference of the Parties, and it’s the 15th such event, i.e. COP8 took place in Kyoto, Japan, in 1992.

Who’s involved? [3] Representatives from 192 countries that have ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (1992) grouped into three categories, as follows…

> Annex 1 Countries: Industrialized nations, e.g. USA, members of the EU, transitioning economies.
> Annex 2 Countries: Less wealthy developed nations that have agreed to pay for some of the developing nations’ costs associated with reducing emissions.
> Non-Annex 1 Countries: Developing nations that have ratified the convention.
Total attendance: 12,000 – 15,000 official participants are expected, plus thousands of other visitors (not accredited by the U.N.) for media coverage, environmental meetings, business promotion, and protests.

Glossary of climate change acronymshttp://unfccc.int/essential_background/glossary/items/3666.php

The Most Important Meeting in History (?) [4]

Since 1997, there is a consensus that the climate-change problem is far more serious than initially thought [5] [6]. The problem is generally believed to be of such an extent that only major government action can solve it. Critics argue that better technology can be a realistic way out [7], see bright green[8].

Following the Stern Report (2006) [9] [10] the potential long-term cumulative costs for doing nothing are forecast to be higher than the estimated abatement costs. On a cost benefit analysis, it will be cheaper to make those investments now. Note: Abatement costs, cumulative costs, relevance of abatement differ by country.

Kyoto, which expires in 2012, is far too lenient to be that solution: So when delegates meet in Copenhagen at the United Nations Climate Change Conference this winter to negotiate Kyoto’s replacement, they will face a daunting but important task (as phrased by GOOD.is):

“Finding a consensus that ensures that the world’s developed countries curb their emissions while at the same time allowing developing countries to expand their economies without relying on cheap fossil fuels.”

GOOD.is cite: “A passable understanding of history and human nature doesn’t inspire much optimism for what will come out of Copenhagen [11] …might be reason for hope…a groundswell of media attention [12] and excitement for what under any other circumstances would be a dry piece of diplomatic procedure [13] ”

Timeline of international response [14]

> UN Framework Convention on Climate Change – UNFCC (1992)
- Goal: Prevented dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system

> Kyoto Protocol (1997)
- Delegates met in Japan to create a worldwide framework for reducing carbon emissions.
- Resulting treaty in effect (2005) aimed to reduce global emissions by 5.2 % below 1990 levels.
- The outcomes were: (1) International cap and trade system; (2) Targets and timelines for
industrialized countries; (3) Project-based reductions: Kyoto mechanisms
- The Kyoto Protocol has sometimes been the watchword of environmentalists —a shorthand for the kind of international cooperation needed to fight climate change (US Senate refused)

> Bali (2007)
- Bali Action Plan: Mandate to finish negotiations on a global climate agreement by 2009 to enter into force from 2013

> Copenhagen (2009)
- Goal: To establish a global agreement for the period from 2012 when the first commitment under the Kyoto protocol expires [15] [16] [17] [18]
- COP15 negotiating document will form the basis of a crucial climate agreement at global talks in Copenhagen this December Key passages from [19] [20]

Topics/agenda points

According to the UN website for COP15, the following 3 specific focus areas will be addressed in the summit:

1. “Technology transfer and financial help for developing countries”
- Why technology is so important – http://unfccc.int/press/fact_sheets/items/4989.php
- Financing climate change action Investment and financial flows for a strengthened response to climate - change – http://unfccc.int/press/fact_sheets/items/4982.php

2. “How to deal with forests”, the impact of forests of global warming (REDD)
- Reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries: approaches to stimulate action – http://unfccc.int/press/fact_sheets/items/4981.php

3 . “How to deal with relocation of companies with high levels of energy consumption to developing countries which are not subject to emissions requirements for greenhouse gasses”
- Climate Change Laws Unlikely to Force Companies Offshore http://www.azocleantech.com/Details.asp?newsID=4146 (WWF survey)
- How companies think about climate change: A McKinsey Global Survey http://www.mckinsey.com/clientservice/ccsi/pdf/climate_change_surve... (McKinsey)

4. Adaption and enforcement
- The need for adaptation http://unfccc.int/press/fact_sheets/items/4985.php
- The need for mitigation http://unfccc.int/press/fact_sheets/items/4988.php
- The third focus area will look specifically at the cement industry.

JCK notes: “One very important focus of the framework construction is the risk that long term climate related goals “risk becoming pretext for inactivity” and can be managed by short and medium term goals.

Thus, the ratio of short and medium targets to long-term targets is a strategic aspect of international climate negotiations. From all of the aforementioned discussion topics, which will be covered in the COP15 meeting, we must not only formulate our collective stances on the issues, and also to align with other like-minded groups in order to make significant contributions.”

A brief history of carbon


The atmospheric carbon count (in parts per million) has increased from 310 in 1958 to 380 today; 350 PPM is thought to be an acceptable level.

Note: The time period in left graph is sufficient to consider human civilization, crop, and ecosystem effects. The temperature anomaly may be larger than shown, i.e. recent IPCC indications (see footnote 6). Also note that the graph on the right does not show the jump on the Y-axis and should be understood in light of the comment given below, since the data plotted should not be misunderstood to start around “0”.

Further reading

1. Graphical timeline

2. Up to date Science

3. The beginners’ guide to the Copenhagen climate conference negotiati...

4. The GOOD Guide to COP15

5. BBC: Where countries stand on Copenhagen

6. UNFCCC- Essential Background


References:

[1] http://www.good.is/post/the-good-guide-to-cop15-a-primer/
[2] http://en.cop15.dk/blogs/view+blog?blogid=2375

[3] http://www.good.is/post/the-good-guide-to-cop15-the-players/

[4] http://www.good.is/post/the-good-guide-to-cop15-an-introduction/

[5] http://e360.yale.edu/content/digest.msp?id=2100

[6] http://www.ipcc.ch/activities/activities.htm

[7] http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2009/10/16/recipe_for_failure

[8] http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/007073.html

[9] http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/sternreview_index.htm

[10] http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2006/oct/30/economy.uk

[11] http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2009/10/16/recipe_for_failure...

[12] http://www.bbcworldnews.com/Pages/ProgrammeMultiFeature.aspx?id=196

[13]http://www.nature.com/climate/2009/0911/full/climate.2009.112.html" target="_blank"> http://www.nature.com/climate/2009/0911/full/climate.2009.112.html

[14] http://www.oneclimate.net/climate-talks-timeline-get-up-to-speed

[15] http://en.cop15.dk/news/view+news?newsid=876

[16] http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/11/10-points-successful-cop15-...

[17] http://www.good.is/post/cop15-the-issues/

[18] http://www.good.is/post/the-good-guide-to-cop15-the-treaty/

[19] http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/interactive/2009/sep/28/clima...
[20] http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2009/cop15/eng/01.pdf

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