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!