Flaws of Copenhagen Accord Revealed | Climate & Clean Energy | David Suzuki Foundation

By Dale Marshall, Climate Change Policy Analyst

Citizens and media from around the world have been rightly critical of the outcome at the UN climate summit in Copenhagen in December. Attention was focused mainly on the Copenhagen Accord, a weak and non-binding agreement hammered out between 25 countries and not adopted by the United Nations as a whole.

One of the milestones of the Copenhagen Accord came and went this past weekend. Countries had until Jan. 31st to associate themselves with the Accord and/or pledge their commitments to reducing global warming pollution. The result further highlighted the inadequacies of the Accord, namely that it is not representative and democratic, that it is much too weak to avoid dangerous global warming impacts, and that it is not legally-binding.

Fewer than one-third of the world's countries made submissions under the Accord and some, like China and India, did so without even mentioning the Copenhagen Accord at all. Though more may come forward over the coming months, we are still a long way from a truly global deal (In comparison, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change has 192 members and the Kyoto Protocol has 190).

It is notable that the world's poorest countries and those most vulnerable to climate change largely voted with their silence. Only three (of 39) small island states and only eight (of 52) African states formally associated themselves with the Accord. Little is expected of the world's poorest countries in terms of reducing their global warming emissions, since they have so little anyway, so they can only benefit from strong action being taken to tackle global warming. Clearly, they do not see the Copenhagen Accord leading to strong action.

One of the biggest reasons why the Copenhagen Accord is flawed—little pressure on the world's greatest polluters to take greater action—was displayed by Canada. A top ten global polluter and already with the weakest target in the industrialized world, Canada weakened its target even further. Other countries like the EU, Australia, Russia, Norway, and New Zealand, only committed to the lower end of their previously pledged ranges. Thank goodness, these governments must be thinking, we don't have to look those from vulnerable countries in the eye as we scale back our ambition to tackle global warming. We can just fill in a form and send it in.

And yet, there are good reasons to feel optimistic after Copenhagen. The summit successfully mobilized thousands of Canadians and millions of citizens around the world calling for leadership to tackle global warming. It was not only inspiring, it can be built upon in 2010.

Second, the salvation of the Copenhagen summit, which has not been discussed very much, was a decision to continue the UN two-track process to deliver a global climate deal, including a continuation of the Kyoto Protocol. Unlike the Copenhagen Accord, this one includes all countries. Unlike the Copenhagen Accord, it has a deadline for completing a legally-binding agreement—this December in Mexico. The so-called BASIC countries (Brazil, South Africa, India, and China) have called for six UN negotiating sessions in 2010, including the Mexico meeting, to finalize a legally-binding deal under the UN. They have insisted that the final outcome include the Kyoto Protocol.

Unlike what is happening under the Copenhagen Accord, if governments like Canada's want to abdicate responsibility for their pollution and in the process screw those most impacted by global warming, they'll actually have to do it face to face at the United Nations.

February 4, 2010
http://www.davidsuzuki.org/blogs/climate-blog/2010/02/flaws-of-copenhagen-accord-revealed/

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