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Council of Canadians evaluates the Copenhagen Accord

As described in our recent op-ed “Why we took to the streets” featured recently in the Ottawa Citizen, the Council of Canadians team in Copenhagen believes the true success came not from the Bella Centre, but from the streets. It was the coalescing of movements, strengthening analyzes of the false and real solutions to the climate crisis and the composed response of demonstrators in the face of severe police response that tells the true story of success – the second coming, direct descendant of Seattle.
So what happened during the final hours of negotiations? Honestly, it’s all quite confusing and things have yet to fully be clarified.

Copenhagen Accord: background on what happened

You can read an advanced unedited version of the Copenhagen Accord on the UNFCCC webpage here
On the UNFCCC webpage (here) you will also find documents pertaining to decisions on the two negotiating tracks going into Copenhagen.
The Copenhagen Accord is uncharted territory for the UNFCCC. It is the product of an agreement reached between the U.S., China, India, Brazil and South Africa. Following this agreement, 25 other heads of states agreed to the draft. Then the Copenhagen Accord was presented by President Obama in a press conference. This is where things get increasingly murky. It appears that a number of negotiators didn’t even have copies of the most recent version at this point, other negotiations may have had the impression that this Accord was a “done deal,” much of the press certainly presented it as a done deal.
After 12 hours of negotiations the Summit ended with the bare minimum agreement of delegates to “note” an accord struck by the United States, China and other emerging powers that fell far short of original goals. Certain states including Tuvalu, Costa Rica, Venezuela, El Salvador, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Cuba, Egypt and Sudan are strongly opposed to the Accord.
Brent has a good blow by blow review of what Canadian media has covered about the Copenhagen Accord which you can read here
I also wrote a blog as well as taped a video blog (from the Copenhagen airport) which you can view here

Here is some additional analysis including how the Copenhagen Accord measures up to our demands for a strong international agreement with deep emission cuts that advances climate justice presented in our background paper for COP15, as well as some starting points for our next steps.
You can read the Council of Canadians background paper for COP15: Critical components for a strong
international climate agreement here

Is the Copenhagen Accord a strong international agreement with deep emission cuts that advances climate justice?

In one word? No.

Does the Copenhagen Accord (CA) set the world on path to 350PPM?

While it has been reported that earlier versions of the Accord included reference to limiting temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees in line with the 350PPM target, the final version references the 2 degree target.

Does the CA deliver deeper emission reductions by the global North of at least 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, and 90 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050?

Not even close. Details of mitigation plans are included in two separate annexes, one for developed country targets and one for the voluntary pledges of major developing countries.  These are not binding, and describe the current status of pledges — ranging from “under consideration” for the United States to “Adopted by legislation” for the European Union. The accord states that both industrialized and developing countries must list their pledges by Jan. 31, 2010.
The accord allows for both 1990 baseline year (the standard under the Kyoto Protocol) and 2005 baseline year.
Where is Canada? The Canadian government made no commitment to revise their emission reduction targets in Copenhagen. This means that our government is likely to continue on with the paltry commitment to reducing emissions 20% below 2006 levels by 2020. As we have noted consistently, this translates to a 3% cut below 1990 levels. Further, as covered widely in the news, the Canadian government appears to have no intention of obtaining this target (more information here )

Does the CA deliver commitments for significant contributions to climate financing from global North countries supporting the transition to low carbon economies in the global South?

The CA does recognize the need for scaled up, new and additional, predictable and adequate funding as well as improved access for global South countries, to enable and support enhanced action on mitigation.
The CA sets a goal of mobilizing jointly $100 billion a year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries. There will also be short-term financing commitments by global North countries to provide resources including forestry and investments through international institutions approaching $30 billion for the period 2010-2012. Legitimate concerns are being raised over the sources for financing noted in the CA which include public, private, bilateral and multilateral and alternative sources.

Before tentatively agreeing to $100 billion in climate financing, the G77 group of 130 countries backed by the least developed countries and small island states, had been proposing a $400 billion a year need for climate financing – roughly 1 per cent of global North countries’ GDP. It is not clear as of yet the extent to which these funds will be additional money, and what conditions may be attached to the money. Further, in not making the needed commitments to reducing emissions, the money needed for mitigation and adaptation will increase significantly.

Does the CA continue with offsetting schemes including plans to introduce offsets? Does the CA make progress towards replacing offsetting-based funding, including the Clean Development Mechanism, for international mitigation and adaptation efforts, clean technology cooperation and forest conservation, with non-offsetting funding mechanisms?

It appears that the negotiating texts that governments had been working on under the two negotiating tracks which includes the clean development mechanism, is ongoing although the status is unclear in the wake of the CA. While the accord is vague, there is certainly no recognition of carbon offsets as a false solution or any commitment to replace offsetting and market-based funding. It is unclear where Canada stands on contributing to climate financing under the CA.

The accord says: “We decide to pursue various approaches, including opportunities to use markets to enhance the cost-effectiveness of and to promote mitigations actions.” Carbon offsets are likely to be included under “alternative” funding sources for climate finance. Further, the accord recognizes the role of reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and the need to provide positive incentives for a mechanism to enable the mobilization of financial resources from global North countries. This may mean moving forward with forest offsets. While there is certainly a need to conserve forests (cutting down forests releases significant emissions), forests offsets which commodify forests and put indigenous and forest peoples’ lands and rights at risk; forest offsets which are being fiercely resisted by many global South and indigenous organizations movements, are likely to be on the table.

Offsets are ineffective, can worsen existing inequalities, and act as loopholes to avoid domestic emission reduction on the part of the global North. Offsets are not an appropriate tool for reducing emissions, or for helping global South countries transition to low carbon futures.
Does the CA establish climate financing that is controlled and managed in accordance with democratic and equitable principles, including participatory planning through the UNFCCC?
The Accord calls for “…funding arrangements to be under a governance structure providing for equal representation of developed and developing countries.” It also states that a “significant portion of such funding should flow through the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund.” This too is vague. There are reports that U.S. negotiators were pushing for the World Bank as the trustee of a new climate fund, which means more business as usual. The World Bank has shown disregard for the transition to a low-carbon future, continuing to significantly fund fossil fuel development and promoting problematic carbon markets.
Does the CA ensure that the rights of all affected peoples, including Indigenous Peoples, are respected and that they are properly included through the UNFCCC negotiation process and in the emerging climate change agreements?
There is no mention of Indigenous Peoples rights in the accord.
As described in an Indigenous Environmental Network news release, Wednesday December 16th
“Over the past two weeks, indigenous peoples have been working to ensure all potential climate policies and actions that come out of the negotiations, ensure recognition of and respect for the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities. Specifically, indigenous peoples have lobbied for the incorporation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) into climate policy. Although some would see the mention of the UNDRIP in the text of the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) a small success, many feel it is a slap in the face of indigenous peoples.

“Indigenous peoples rights are mentioned once in the form of a recommendation for nation states to consider, but not as a requirement,” explains Alberto Saldamando of the International Indigenous Treaty Council (IITC). “But ensuring basic human rights for the worlds populations who are most affected by climate change should not be voluntary. It is a matter of obligation.”

“It’s a sad situation that world leaders representing industrialized society have lost their understanding of the sacredness of Mother Earth,” adds Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN). “Before we can achieve global action, there needs to be international awareness of why we are really here. We marched out in support of our brother, President Evo Morales of Bolivia, and his demand that the rights of Mother Earth be recognized in the negotiating text here in Copenhagen.””

Where is Canada on the Copenhagen Accord?

As reported in the Toronto Sun,
“According to Harper, “Saying Canada is “very comfortable” with a sketchy climate-change deal eked out in Copenhagen Friday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper nonetheless insisted his government will take no steps to cut greenhouse gas emissions until the United States acts.
“What will be most critical for Canada in terms of filling out the details of our regulatory framework will be the regulatory framework being developed in the United States,” he said. “The nature of the Canadian economy and the nature of our integrated energy markets is such that Canada and the United States need to be closely harmonized on this.
“If the Americans don’t act, it will severely limit our ability to act. But if Americans do act, it is absolutely essential that we act in concert with them.””
Moving forward: What next for the Council of Canadians’ climate justice campaign?
As highlighted in Brent’s blog, there are a number of key dates coming up including a UNFCCC meeting in Bonn Germany and COP16 in Mexico City (November 2010). The Council of Canadians is committed to the climate justice movement and will be evaluating early in the New Year the ways we can best make our next interventions at home and abroad. http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=2585
In Canada, we will continue and expand our campaign for a tar sands free future, demonstrating through action how Canada’s Mordor stands in the way of serious climate action and is a key domestic example of climate injustice (more information will be available in the New Year).
We will also work with our membership and chapters as well as allied organizations on the following demands of the Canadian government:

Alongside other global North (or Annex 1) countries must commit to an emission reduction target of at least 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020.

  • Pledge our faire share for a UN, democratically and equitably  controlled fund estimated at $3 to $6 billion a year for mitigation and adaptation measures in the global South.
  • Reject proposals for new and expanded offsetting schemes.
  • Recognize that ongoing expansion in the tar sands and climate action are not compatible and start planning for a transition off of fossil fuels that includes significant public investment in energy conservation and efficiency, rapidly expanding renewable energy, and sustainable transportation.
  • Recognize the related need for water justice and water as a human right