UN Posts Post-Copenhagen Pledges

The frustrations and hardships of the Copenhagen meeting--the long and slow lines endured by members of NGOs, the tortured negotiations that increasingly seemed to make a mockery of the "Hopenhagen" posters seen all over town--have been amply documented here and elsewhere. The adequacy or inadequacy of the Copenhagen Accord adopted during the meeting's 11th hour and 59th second will be debated until the end of time. So it's a relief to see the much-maligned UNFCCC posting, as scheduled, two lists of pledges: one of mid-term carbon reductions promised by advanced industrial countries; the other mitigation actions proposed by developing countries.

The schedule of industrial country emissions cuts is short and straight-forward: The box for each country contains a number or range of numbers, plus usually a few lines of text qualifying or elucidating the pledge. The numbers correspond generally to negotiating positions taken before Copenhagen and come as no surprise. Thus, Europe promises to cut emissions 20-30 percent by 2020, subject to a strong follow-on agreement being reached, and Japan 25 percent, subject to the same reservation. Canada and the United States each promise cuts of about 17 percent, Australia 5-25 percent, and Russia 15-25 percent..

The list of statements by developing countries looks more ominous, in that each box instead contains a link to a letter or memorandum, which one naturally opens with dread. But many of the letters turn out to be short and to the point. China's letter, for example, consists of  just four paragraphs, of which the operative one is this:

"China will endeavor to lower its carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 40-45% by 2020 compared to the 2005 level, increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 15% by 2020 and increase forest coverage by 40 million hectares and forest stock volume by 1.3 billion cubic meters by 2020 from the 2005 levels."

India's letter says: "India will endeavour to reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 20-25% by 2020 in comparison to the 2005 level."

Explicitly and implicitly, virtually all statements quoted in the two lists are contingent on future progress in negotiations. The best account I've seen of developments leading up to Copenhagen, the conference and its outcome, and what comes next,  is in Earth Negotiations Bulletin.

 

 

 

 

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