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More on Copenhagen and Climate Change

A rather dispiriting headline appears in the Irish Times today ‘UN climate summit ‘likely to fail’. (I have posted on this topic here and here) The basis of this article is the comment yesterday made by ‘British officials’ that a deal on climate change could take at least another 12 months. This rather depressing comment was made at the Barcelona pre-summit talkbarc_09_11_4_2_348s that are currently taking place. These talks are part of wider programme of pre-summit talks that have been held under the auspices of the United Nations.  The Barcelona meeting is supposed to establish a firm basis on which the Copenhagen talks agree the basis of a new treaty.  According to the Times all hope is now lost that anything coherent or binding can emerge from Copenhagen. Instead the sources claimed that a further summit would have to be held in December 2010 to finally agree a treaty. The Bali Summit of 2007 established the agenda for these talks with the aim of having a ratified treaty by the end of 2009. This rather short timeframe was established as it was clear that time is of the essence with regard to climate change. (In contrast the Doha Round of negotiations at the WTO have been ongoing since 2001, though the WTO is also keeping a close eye on events in Barcelona and Copenhagen)

According to the Times there are over 1,000 different disagreements over the current text. David Milliband told the House of Commons yesterday that there was no Plan B and that renewed impetus was required to ensure some solid progress at Copenhagen. Though a consensus appears to be emerging that an outline agreement maybe all that can be achieved at Copenhagen. The fact that Ban Ki-moon appears to agree that  it is unlikely that this a binding treaty can be agreed in December seems to put the nail in the coffin of an agreement.

In the Times Benedict Dempsey from Save the Children’s, said: “The cost of any delay to a climate deal will be counted in children’s lives. Save the Children estimates that 250,000 children could be killed by climate change next year.”

The imperatives of agreeing a settlement are clear though it will probably be dependent on the US, China and the EU to agree to the slashing of carbon emissions. On Wednesday in the Irish Times is was reported that both the US and the EU were going to redouble their efforts. If the US is going to make good on their ‘ever-expanding suite of measures‘ it will have to take the lead as the EU (with the possible exception of David Milliband) appears to have lost its will.

  1. alex
    November 6, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    hi aoife,

    maybe we don’t have to be so concerned – afterall there is a possible legal binding outcome from copenhagen – an amendment to the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol does not expire in 2012 or ever – in fact it includes a provision (Article 3 (9)) providing for its continued amendment. Its first commitment period ends in 2012 and countries are meeting in Copenhagen to finalise commitments for the second commitment period as is evident on the UNFCCC website: http://unfccc.int/kyoto_protocol/items/4577.php

  2. Aoife O'Donoghue
    November 7, 2009 at 11:32 am

    Thanks Alex, While I agree with your legal analysis of Kyoto too many times in international law these kind of provisions are relied on to procrastinate (as e.g. public health and the AIDs pandemic under the WTO). Kyoto has not succeeded in reducing emissions and these need to be cut much faster and more definatively that was projected under Kyoto.

  3. November 17, 2009 at 4:10 pm
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