Copenhagen: Stepping stone for success Media Release

Nov 02, 2009 - 8:00am

As the UN Climate talks in the lead up to Copenhagen resume in Spain this week, The Climate Institute today highlighted that the world is not on track to deliver a ratifiable treaty in Copenhagen but can still build critical foundations for success.

“Success or failure in Copenhagen will not be determined by whether or not the world agrees to a new treaty. It will be determined by whether the summit builds political momentum and lays the foundation for the agreement of a new treaty to be agreed in early 2010.” said Erwin Jackson, Policy and Research, Director of The Climate Institute.

“The biggest risk to global action on climate change is that political leaders in Copenhagen just cobble together current national commitments to action without clear international direction, tie a green ribbon around it and trumpet this as good international outcome.”

The Climate Institute briefing paper The Copenhagen Outcome: Building Blocks for Success outlines the key tests that need to be passed if the Copenhagen summit is to lay the building blocks for climate action and a rapid global transition to clean energy economic growth.

Among key tests for a successful Copenhagen outcome are:

  1. Consistent with climate security, e.g. agree to keep global warming below 2 degrees and ensure that global emissions peak and begin to decline by 2020. Ensure national commitments are flexible and allow revision according to latest science and prevent locking in potentially inadequate 2020 domestic commitments.
  2. Legally binding, e.g. countries agree to finalise a new treaty in early 2010.
  3. International financing, e.g. establishes mechanisms for delivering public and private financing for developing countries.
  4. Accountable and transparent, e.g. ensure international and independent accounting of national emissions.
  5. Politically durable, e.g. facilitates commitments by advanced developing countries while ensuring developed countries lead efforts by committing to ambitious reduction targets.

“International financing for developed countries is among key foundational issues that will determine Copenhagen’s success or failure. Australia, as recently appointed ‘friend of the Chair’, can play an important leadership role by coming forward with its vision on scale and the mechanisms needed to unlock public and private financing in developing countries.”

The paper also lays out existing pledges from other countries on emission reduction targets which – according to the Government’s own criteria - see Australia have a 2020 target of around 15% reduction on 2000 levels. It also notes that the trend towards more ambitious domestic action internationally could see the conditions for the 25 percent reduction also met sooner rather than later.

“A healthy dose of realism is not a recipe for pessimism on global climate action, but we need to keep building Australian efforts to help achieve an effective global climate agreement as well as to ensure Australia becomes competitive in the emerging global clean energy economy.”

Read the briefing paper 


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