Monday, 4 January 2010

DECC Follow-up meeting to Copenhagen: What now?

At the Children’s Climate Forum, young people from around the world showed that it is possible to reach a strong, global consensus on climate change and asked world leaders to do the same at COP15. In many ways, the result was disappointing. There was no legally binding treaty, no global commitment for emissions reduction, no global framework for putting a price on carbon and not nearly enough recognition of the immediacy of the climate problem.

What we got instead was the ‘Copenhagen Accord’ – a non-binding agreement between a handful of the most powerful (and therefore also the most polluting) countries that agreed that something must be done to reduce global emissions, and agreed on a figure for financing for poorer countries over the next decade. This is barely a glimmer of what we had hoped for in the build-up to the conference, so many are asking why countries like the UK didn’t push the EU bloc to reject such a seemingly worthless piece of paper.

I was lucky enough to be invited to a meeting that the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) held on Monday 21st December as a follow-up to Copenhagen. In many ways, the UK government has acted very well in its response to the climate change threat – our national emissions targets are legally-binding and ambitious and the Government has been a driving force in making the EU a leading light in the climate change negotiations.

At the meeting, the Prime Minister Gordon Brown joined us by satellite link and made a statement about the outcomes of Copenhagen, and then took a few questions from the floor. Ed Miliband then did the same. A video of the meeting can be seen here. The audience was made up of many different people (including UNICEF!) who had been involved in working with DECC to make Copenhagen a success, and so it was a chance for the Government to thank us for our efforts and discuss what 2010 and the next decade holds for global climate action. Ed’s explanation for his support of the Accord was an interesting one: he pointed out that it does put into place $100 billion of climate finance by 2020 for poorer countries, and kick-starts the flow of this money within the next couple of years. Without the Accord, this finance would not exist and nothing meaningful would have come out of Copenhagen.

However, there is still a keen sense of despondency across many different organisations who had worked tirelessly for a decent deal. The big question is: what now?

After the massive build-up for Copenhagen, what now?

Without a doubt, we will soon be gearing up for another climate change conference at the end of 2010. Hopefully some of the momentum from Copenhagen will be maintained and the efforts of millions around the world may be effective in eventually producing the deal that we all aspire to. As young climate ambassadors, we, the Copenhagen 4, will still be doing fun stuff in our local communities to raise awareness of climate change, so keep reading our blog! We are also taking a leading role in using the connections made at the Forum to produce a youth reply to COP15 in the form of a written response and further campaign action.

May 2010 be what we hoped 2009 would be, and may the coming decade be the decade of global consensus and action.

Happy New Year!


Amidst the chaos, a deal emerges from Copenhagen. But is it the one we all hoped for?

US President Barack Obama (C left) speaks during a multi-lateral meeting with Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao (R) and other leaders at the Bella Center in Copenhagen Photo: AFP

Over two weeks of talks, almost two years of planning and some 45,000 people took part in the UN climate summit in Copenhagen - the vast majority convinced of the need for a new global agreement on climate change.

Why then did talks break down in the final hours of the Summit and did the endless meetings achieve anything concrete?

While a promise to limit global warming to a 2C temperature was agreed upon by the majority of the international leaders, this agreement is not binding and does not set new greenhouse-gas reduction targets. Instead, countries are to set their own emission-reduction commitments, which would not be legally binding

Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, and EU chiefs said the deal was a first step but acknowledged there was much further to go to get the ambitious and legally-binding treaty countries such as the UK have been pushing for.

More positively, by 2020, $100 billion “Copenhagen Green Fund” aid will help poorer countries halt deforestation and switch to greener technology. In the mean time, There will be $10bn (£6bn) a year "fast start" funding for the poorest and most vulnerable countries to protect themselves from the impact of drought and floods caused by global warming over the next three years.

What Next?

Britain is pushing hard for a legally binding treaty with clear targets to be laid out for the international community to commit to; however this will require another meeting of world leaders.

Meanwhile there will be pressure on the developed nations set their own carbon emission reduction target. The EU has offered to cut emissions by 20per cent from 1990 levels by 2020.
A meeting of all UN members' climate change negotiators is planned to be held in Bonn in June, and their annual conference is due in Mexico in December.
We asked Luke, one of our roving reporters and part of the UK delegation who took part in the Children’s Climate Summit, what he thought of the outcomes of the COP 15 talks.
Zaynin Kanji

Luke’s Response:

Through the Children’s Climate Forum the world’s youth demanded of world leaders a strong and fair deal to fix the climate. In too many ways, they failed us and the entire global community by missing the opportunity in Copenhagen to reach an ambitious global consensus on the issue.

We had hoped that
Copenhagen would be the turning point in the fight against climate change by getting all countries to sign up to a deal which would reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, provide financial help for poorer countries to cope with climate change and help reduce the destruction of forests around the world.

It was tremendously exciting in the weeks leading up to the conference to see governments come out with pledges for emissions reductions, and the news that world leaders would attend the conference raised the profile of climate change as a global issue to an all-time high.

The ‘Copenhagen Accord’, as it is being called, is disappointing in so many ways – it does very little compared to what we wanted the conclusion of COP15 to do. However, although it doesn’t live up to the expectations nor the needs of vulnerable children around the world, it DOES mean that $100 billion of climate-related aid will flow to developing countries by 2020. Without such an accord, there would have been yet another delay to getting this aid to the people who are being hit hardest by climate change.

Nonetheless, the weakness of the deal in terms of combating the root causes of climate change means that we all need to redouble our efforts to get our governments to act on global emissions in 2010.

As a follow-up to the Children’s Climate Forum, we are thinking hard about how we are going to maintain the tremendous pressure for action that was built up for Copenhagen. Hopefully our efforts and those of numerous other organisations and individuals will lead to the deal we needed in 2009 being reached in 2010.

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