It is now more or less clear that the world will not be ready with an ambitious legally binding agreement at Copenhagen, which sets interim targets for industrialized countries or the funds and technology for participation of developing countries. Already the Kyoto Protocol, which sets binding targets for the industrialised countries is being bashed. The goal posts are being shifted for a single agreement, which will remove the distinction between Annex 1 (industrialised countries) and the rest. But the clock to Copenhagen is ticking and there is little time to dismantle the existing agreements and stitch a new one. Also, the US is not ready as it is unlikely that its domestic legislation on climate change will be passed in a hurry. So, the single agreement (proposed by Australia) will not be decided upon just yet. But the world must have an agreement at Copenhagen. What will this be?
A recent speech by the Danish prime minister puts forward the elements of the possible deal. And, lets be clear, this is going to be bad for the planet.
Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen at the GLOBE Copenhagen Legislators Forum on October 24, 2009, is reported to have said the following:
a. The world needs a binding agreement that will set the world on the path to limit global warming to a maximum of two degrees;
b. To achieve this, the Copenhagen Agreement should be ambitious; it should binding and it should be concrete
c. The agreement will be based on what each countries says it can commit to – in terms of finances or in terms of cutting emissions.
d. In this way, it will provide for immediate action based on a comprehensive set of binding, political commitments from world leaders.
“This is the agreement we must reach. It will both provide guidance for our lawyers to finalize the details of the internationally legal binding agreement and for world leaders to commit to specific immediate action, starting January 2010.”
In other words, it will be a nothing more than a ‘pledge and review’ agreement, signed by the most powerful of the world. Leaders will pledge what their countries are prepared to do domestically. The world community will sign off on it, with an agreement that there is a review (or scrutiny) to check how countries are delivering on their promises.
This agreement as it is only ‘pledging’ domestic targets will not distinguish between historical polluters – those who are required to take action first – and the rest of the world. This will be a politically binding agreement. It will set the framework for negotiations on a legally binding single agreement post-Copenhagen.
Surely, we deserve more than this. Surely, the Planet deserves more. Lets decide if a bad agreement in Copenhagen is worse than no agreement. Lets make it clear.