Saturday, January 9, 2010

Demistifying Copenhagen

Disclaimer: This post and a few future posts will be drab boring factual posts, basically posted so that I understand somethings which I have wanted to understand for a long time but well get confused. Anyways My Blog! My Keyboard :P

So well last month while I was battling a cold and an extremely high temperature ( Yeah I have lived in places like Delhi and Ludhiana and still it was in Hyderabad that I caught cold ... I get that smirk!) there was some climate conference in Copenhagen. It generated so much chatter that I wanted to know " Bhai funda ke hai " ( Whats the deal).

So from I have gathered I will post here, so that next time I don't have to scrounge the net for info.
What is Copenhagen Summit?
The 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference, commonly known as the Copenhagen Summit. It was held at Bella convention center ( a hall powered by a wind mill) from December 7-18th. Connie Haggard was the president of the summit and handed over the presidency to Danish Prime Minister Lars L√łkke Rasmussen in the final days of summit.

What was it about?
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has predicted an average global rise in temperature of 1.4°C (2.5°F) to 5.8°C (10.4°F) between 1990 and 2100. This would lead to changes in the rain patterns, lead to melting of polar Ice caps and rise in sea level. A 2°C rise in temperature of earth ( average temperature) would be catstrophic and would be irreversible. The summit if it has to be said in 1 line was aimed at to keep the average rise in temperature below 2 °C. Although a 1.5 °C rise in temperature would lead to the drowning of island nations of Tavalu and Maldives. The Copenhagen summit was important because Kyoto Protocol was to tell Annexe 1 ( 37 developd countries) to reduce emiisions below 1990 level from 2008-2012. A framwork is needed for after 2012.

What was Kyoto protocol?
The Kyoto protocol was adopted on December 1997 and entered into force on February 2006. Under it Annexe1 countries ( 37 developed countries) commit to reduce their green house gases ( Carbon di oxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulfur Hexafluoride ) and 2 Hydro carbon gases 5.2% below 1990 levels by 2008-2012. The Non Annexe 1 countries have to give general commitments. Main Points:
  • United states of America has not ratified the treaty till date.
  • It has no numerical commitments on India and China, the 2 top 5 producers of green house gases today.
  • The Annexe 1 countries can reduce their effective green house contributions by Trading or buying Carbon credits - EU trading schemes.
What are commitments from various countries?

  1. US: to cut green house gases emission by 17% below 2005 level by 2020 and 83% by 2050.
  2. China : To cut emission intensity by 40 - 45% below 2005 levels by 2020.
  3. India: To cut emission intensity by 20-25% below 2005 levels by 2020.
  4. European Union : To cut emission by 20% below 1990 levels unconditionally.
What were the roadblocks?

  1. Danish Text: On 8th December 2008, Gaudian Newspaper of UK leaked out what was known as the Danish text. It was a secret draft agreement worked on by a group of individuals known as the circle of encirclement, but in reality included a handful of countries - US, UK and Denmark. The draft disregarded the Kyoto Protocol ( only legally binding climate change protocol in the world) which said that rich countries responsible for most of CO2 emissions in the world should lead the climate change initiative. Some main points of Danish Text.
-Force developing countries to agree to specific emission cuts and measures that were not part of the original UN agreement;
-Divide poor countries further by creating a new category of developing countries called "the most vulnerable";
-Weaken the UN's role in handling climate finance.
-Not allow poor countries to emit more than 1.44 tonnes of carbon per person by 2050, while allowing rich countries to emit 2.67 tonnes

The Developing countries were furious and shot down the draft. G77 ( amisnomer consists of 130 countries) rejected it.

2. Major emerging markets like India and China who had voluntarily agreed to cut emissions were asked to have international monitoring for the same. This was not agreed by the developing countries.

3. While emerging economies ( BRIC) were not a part of original annexe1 countries of kyoto protocol and hence had no legally binding commitment to reduce their carbon emissions, they were now one of the highest polluters. The Developed countries wanted more assurances from these economies to reduce their carbon emissions. The Developing economies saw it as a plot to stop their growth.

4. Peaking year - The year by which the carbon emmisions should reach it peak and then reduce was not agreed upon by developing economies. They believed in the concept of Common but differentiated responsibility.

So finally what Happened?
On December 18th Barack Obama ( who couldnot walk away from a conference without having any form of agreement) had a meeting with Heads of Brasil, South Africa, India and China ( BASIC) and they came out with what is being referred to as the Copenhagen Accord. The document recognised that climate change is one of the greatest challenges of the present and that actions should be taken to keep any temperature increases to below 2°C. The document is not legally binding and does not contain any legally binding commitments for reducing Co2 emissions.

The Draft was refused by majority of the developing countries and was not agreed by consensus.

So finally what we have now is a half baked document, showing how the powerful and mighty can be shortsighted. In the anarchy of greed and power the real loser will be earth ( with islands like Tavalu coming first). The combined might of Obama, Hu, Singh, Zuma and Lula could not save the earth. We await Rio with mockery of a document, though after this even from Rio I won't have much hopes. The developed countries saw this as an approach to hold the growth juggernaut of Developing countries at ransom and the developing countries on their part were so paranoid and presented a picture of being victimized that they refused to listen to any suggestion.

We in India are celebrating that Prime Minister Singh was one of the Dignitaries who drafted the Copenhagen accord, but here is my question - FOR HOW LONG?

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