<a href="https://www.greenlifestylemag.com.au/blogs/jumpycrawl#">Postcards from Copenhagen</a>

Postcards from Copenhagen

John Pickrell, on the ground at the Copenhagen Conference

Failure for talks


The UN's climate summit has ended in a loose agreement which many are calling an outright failure to act upon the threat of global warming.

Credit: John Pickrell

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The UN's climate summit has ended in a loose agreement which many are calling an outright failure to act upon the threat of global warming.

Late Friday night US President Barak Obama helped broker a deal with Brazil, South Africa, India and China which says it "recognises" the scientific evidence for keeping global warming below 2°C, but does not impel countries to keep warming below that level, and also does not chart a timetable to any kind of legally binding treaty.

To come to agreement China gave a little movement on the issue of whether it would allow other nations to monitor its carbon emissions, and the US offered US$100 billion a year by 2020 to help developing nations battle the impacts of climate change; this was on top of a similar pledges offered by other developed nations. The deal will also see developed nations offering a total of around US$30 billion of 'fast track' funding other the next three years.

The US has stuck by an offer to reduce its emissions by 17% of 2005 levels by 2020, however, which is just 4% of 1990 levels. This seems pathetic compared to what the EU has offered, which is to cut emissions by 20 - 30% below 1990 levels by 2020. It is still unclear what Australia will offer in light of the agreement. Developing nations are also urged to restrain their emissions.

Tim Flannery a professor at Macquarie University in Sydney and chairman of advocacy group the Copenhagen Climate Council called it an "extraordinary and frustrating week." It saw the "death of the traditional negotiating process," he said, in that delegates here could not come up with a draft text and it took heads of state to get over that hurdle.

With everything currently on the table "we are likely to be a few gigatonnes [of carbon dioxide emissions a year] short of satisfactory target in 2020," he said, meaning that if further reductions are not enacted, it will be difficult for nations to keep global temperature rises below the a potentially catastrophic 2°C boundary.

Lumumba Di-Aping, the chief negotiator for the G77 group of developing nations said: "This deal will definitely result in massive devastation in Africa and small island states. It has the lowest level of ambition you can imagine. It's nothing short of climate change scepticism in action.... It locks countries into a cycle of poverty forever. Obama has eliminated any difference between him and Bush."

Obama admitted the agreement would not be enough to halt global warming, and said we would need to do much more in the future. "The text we have is not perfect," agreed Nicolas Sarkozy, President of France, but he added that coming to some kind of a deal was essential because otherwise nations as important as India, China and the US " would be freed from any type of contract" to limit their emissions of greenhouse gasses. "That's why a contract is absolutely vital," he said.

One small positive in the negotiations is a deal that will see developed nations pay developing nations to cut deforestation by a quarter over the next five years. A sense of exhaustion from the negotiations, and also with the level of disorganisation at the conference's Bella Centre venue, hit delegates and media last night, most of whom are departing Copenhagen today.

As this article was published - Saturday morning local time - negotiations continue, because several developing nations are refusing to agree to the deal. They argue that a 2°C rise is "suicide" for them and endorsement from all 193 nations is needed for the UN to pass it.