Delegates look to next year to reach legally binding deal

THE clear-up after the UN climate talks was underway in Copenhagen yesterday but, in the wake of an agreement that fell short of expectations, many are looking to next year in the hope of finally achieving a legally-binding deal.

A deal on climate was reached in Copenhagen – after frantic negotiations between world leaders to avert the total failure that seemed likely at some points of the conference.

But even those who struck the Copenhagen Accord had to admit it was only the first step in tackling rising global temperatures.

The deal includes references to keeping temperature rises to no more than 2ºC and immediate funds and finance to the tune of $100 billion (€69bn) a year by 2020 for developing countries.

But it has no long-term global targets for emissions cuts or a timetable to turn the agreement into a legally-binding treaty – which Copenhagen itself was originally supposed to deliver.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature called on all countries to build on the Copenhagen agreement and find “common ground” to deliver an equitable, comprehensive and legally-binding agreement by the end of 2010.

But Friends of the Earth executive director Andy Atkins said the accord, which undermined the UN climate negotiations process and did little to tackle global warming, should be “sent to the recycling bin”.

Leaders should negotiate a legally binding treaty within months, he urged.

Because of the fudge that allowed the accord to be accepted by the full conference of more than 190 countries involved in the UN talks and get the money flowing, despite adamant opposition from a handful of countries, nations have to sign up to support it.

Developing countries who want access to the “fast start” funding to help them tackle climate change immediately need to back the deal.

Under the agreement, rich countries and major developing economies will set out the action they plan to take to tackle climate change and will provide information to other nations on their progress.

Countries need to submit their pledges, which were known before the climate conference, by January 31, 2010 – although it is possible that the deadline could slip to allow the US actions to be backed by domestic legislation.

Negotiations through the UN process will have to continue next year in a bid to move towards a legally binding agreement – although reference to a legal instrument were removed.

And a number of other elements of an agreement such as funding for efforts to reduce deforestation need to be sorted out.


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